Part 1 – Frontal Wind

Since kitesurfing is a wind driven sport it is important to understand and be able to read the wind. When you come to kite Squamish the first thing you are going to notice is that we kite Squamish right between the mountains. Your usual kitespots are normally located at a beach or a big lake.

So how does it work kiting between mountains and how does it affect the wind?

What makes kite Squamish possible and so special is the thermal wind here. Before we get to that, though, we talk about the frontal wind.

Frontal Wind

When air moves between regions of different pressure we get what we call frontal wind. The root of all wind and weather is the Sun, which heats the Earth. This heating of the Earth is an uneven heating, because of night and day, because different surfaces (such as rocks and trees) absorb and reflect sunlight in different amounts, and because sunlight hits the equator more directly than the poles. The uneven heat creates pressure differences, and the air moves between areas of high and low pressure to try to equalize the pressure. As we all know, moving air is wind.

Coriolis Effect

Wind does not simply blow in a straight line from areas of high to low pressure. The rotation of the Earth causes a curvature of the winds and is called the Coriolis Effect Gaspard Coriolis, a French engineer, discovered and explained that “the path of any object set in motion above a rotating surface will curve in relation to objects on that surface”. The Coriolis Effect causes winds to curve to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere, from the perspective of a person standing on the surface.

Pressure gradient

As the air flows between the regions of different pressure, the higher-pressure air always moves toward air of lower pressure in an attempt to gain balance within the atmosphere. The bigger the changes in pressure within a shorter distances the high wind speeds, while environments that exhibit less change in pressure with distance generate lower or non-existent winds. The high to low force that causes wind and its velocity works on synoptic scales such as those depicted on conventional surface maps.

Even though the prevailing winds when kite Squamish are thermal wind, we do get frontal winds here as well. So come and enjoy your kite Squamish session right between the mountains!