What is a Good Weather to Fly a Drone?
The way drones are used nowadays is a far cry from when they were first used by the Royal Air Force in the U.K. to train pilots. Although they are still used for military purposes, drones have evolved beyond sovereign interests to extend to such areas as search and rescue operations, geomapping, law enforcement, agriculture, photography, and filmmaking. These remotely-run aircraft are also much sought after by hobbyists. It seems that the growth of the drone market isn’t stopping anytime soon, with its value projected to shoot up to $40.9 billion in 2027 or a compounded annual growth rate of 12.27% from 2021.
Good Weather to Fly a Drone
While flying drones can very useful and highly satisfying, it can also be challenging. One of the more frequent mistakes is not checking the weather forecast. And when you do remember to do so, you may not exactly know what to do with the information. This article aims to help you determine what weather conditions to look out for.
So what is drone-worthy weather?
We’ll detail in a bit what the meteorological circumstances are for optimal drone flight. Note that this response takes into account a typical scenario where the drones are in working order, and there’s the usual adherence to the manufacturers’ equipment manuals. Also, since drones can serve several functions, including surveillance and reconnaissance activities, we would want to narrow down the answers to refer to primarily recreational pursuits.
Good Weather to Fly a Drone – Ideal conditions for best flyability
1. Clear skies with light to medium cloudiness
When taking aerial shots, you would like the coast to be as clear as possible. Overcast skies can dim visibility and, worse, result in blurred images. Also, dark clouds can be an indicator of bad weather. Should it rain unexpectedly, the water can get into the electronic parts of the drone, creating short circuits and causing irreparable damage to its propellers.
At the same time, you also wouldn’t want the horizon to be too sunny. While that may be perfect for having a picnic, it isn’t so when you’re flying a drone. The sun’s glare can impair your own vision preventing you from a consistently clear view of your aircraft.
2. Mild or moderate temperature
By this, we mean a temperature range of 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. So, okay, perhaps the freezing point may not exactly be what you would call mild temperature. However, in drone speak, their apparatus will still be humming perfectly in that condition.
Cold temperatures can impact your device by causing batteries to lose charge faster, resulting in their breakdown.
On the other hand, in extremely high temperatures, batteries and the rest of the electronic components of the drone can quickly wear out. In worst-case scenarios where the battery completely overheats, it may even explode, causing permanent damage to your equipment.
3. Quiet winds
When you’re a newbie, it can be tempting to disregard weather warnings and instead throw caution to the wind so you can immediately try it out. But this can be a huge mistake, and unless you’re a seasoned drone pilot, it would be best to fly your drone within the recommended wind speed of not more than 10 to 15 mph.
So how does 15 mph look? The National Weather Service pegs a 0 to 12 mph range at anywhere from a “calm wind” to “leaves and twigs being in constant motion” or “wind blows up dry leaves from the ground.” When the wind starts moving small branches or sweeps up dust and loose materials from the ground, then it’s entering the 13 mph to 18 mph, and you better be on the alert.
Although the wind resistance level of your aircraft can vary depending on how large the propellers are, how fast the speed the motor spin is, and how heavy the equipment is, generally speaking, anywhere above 15 mph is the danger zone. Flying above 15 mph can make it challenging to navigate your device’s controls and quickly drain its batteries, jeopardizing your flight and risking a crash.
4. Average humidity
Humidity is the amount of concentrated water vapor in the atmosphere, indicating the presence of precipitation, dew, or fog. It is an essential factor to consider as it can impact your aircraft’s performance.
When your aircraft is flying in high altitudes, the humidity can rise, resulting in water seeping into the electronic mechanisms of your drone. In addition, it can also cause your drone’s optical sensors to malfunction. Although there is no magic number for the humidity that can determine if you can fly your apparatus, the general rule of thumb is to avoid flight when condensation is occurring and water vapor is turning into a mist or fog.
Although some of the best drones in the market have waterproof technology, most consumer-standard equipment aren’t water-resistant. So it’s best to do your due diligence and get an Accidental Drone Warranty to protect from accidental damages.
* Bash Sarmiento has worked on this publication.
5. Normal geomagnetic activity
Geomagnetic activity refers to the weather in space, such as a geomagnetic storm (or simply a magnetic storm). In this case, a solar flare causes an energy exchange strong enough to extend to the space surrounding the earth, heating up the ionosphere and interfering with your drone’s GPS. As a result, you end up with inaccurate positioning information with your drone landing in places far from the defined home point. This situation may eventually force you into reverting to manual mode to save your equipment.
Before taking your drone out next time, check your Kp number, which quantifies geomagnetic disturbances. The Kp range is zero, meaning little to no activity, to 9, indicating a powerful geomagnetic storm. A Kp of 1-4 is considered safe for flying.
Drones are a great and exciting way to entertain yourself and enhance your appreciation of life. To boost your drone’s performance and increase its longevity, just remember to take note of the ideal weather conditions in which to fly it. Keeping it safe will go a long way to help guarantee that your drone will be around to capture more beautiful moments.
Consider keeping this advice and always check the forecast. This way you will ensure good weather to fly a drone.
* Bash Sarmiento has worked on this publication.
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When we talk about flying a drone, most of the time we think about the technical specifications of the flight. Altitude, range of flight, points to view, home point, taking off, and landing. We also prepare our needed technical documentation such as approval and waiver. But in addition to all these requirements, we should also always check the weather forecast.