Know your weather and the signs of likely thermal activity and locations where you can count on getting thermals - which are most of the places we like to ride buggy and landboards!. Thermals consist of 3 main types, thermal convection, ridge lift (mechanical uplift), and synoptic uplift.
The 2 that concern kiters the most are thermal convection, ridge lift (mechanical uplift).
Convection induced (Thermal convection)
Large flat areas with darker more heat absorbing vegetation or soil.
Large areas of bitumen or concrete.
Large areas of trees and any sort of vegetation
All the areas within and surrounding the above.
Ridge or mechanical uplift
Slopes with wind running uphill to a ridge line
Sand dunes with wind blowing over them.
Building and trees
Hills and mountains
Some good info on thermals
Paraglider perspective on the dangers or hazards of thermals
http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/safety/ ... cgi?ID=534
Examples of Cumulus clouds formed by inlandor coastal thermals
http://www.freebase.com/view/wikipedia/ ... d/10615414
Cumulus cloud formation
Other cloud info
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/cloud-fo ... -form.html
Thermals are more common inland, however they are still common along coastal strips of land. Know your clouds, they are always visible signs of thermal activity, however thermals also occur on clear cloudelsss days!!
The famous "erik" lofting in Hawaii was on a beach, the thermal popped off from a carpark adjacent to the beach. Once they "pop" thermals can move laterally especially if there is a breeze at ground level.
Most people associate uplifting air with thermals, however in the "Erik" video you can clearly see the descending air effects, when Erik is rapidly returned to the beach. The descending air can have equally devastating effects on lofted kiters and also to paragliders in flight (canopy collapses).
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1747031/e ... t_records/
Ridge Lift is also a presents a greater risk of lofting to any kiter who is using a power kite, the wind speed can increase by 2-5 times over a ridge, and then beyond the ridge it drops off again presenting another obvious rapid descent hazard to a lofted kiter or paraglider.
All kiters, need to become very well aquainted with weather forecasting and also reading the signs that nature provides in the local area. Paraglider pilots need to pass tests on weather and interpreting weather data, I think power kiters should too.