Flying Drones in Cold Weather: Always Better Safe Than Sorry

Flying Drones in Cold Weather: Always Better Safe Than Sorry

Every time I post a story on Instagram of me flying in the snow, I tend to get a couple of people reaching out to me with questions. “You can fly in the snow?” “Does the cold weather affect the drone?” “Is the drone waterproof?” and so on. When I first flew in the snow, I was definitely worried about how the drone would do up there, but after a few flights in it, I now know that I can trust it as long as I take the right steps while flying.

Now, the first thing I will note is that I am not flying in any sort of blizzard conditions. If the wind is crazy, the visibility is poor and the roads are really bad to drive on, it is probably best you don't fly. If I am going to fly in the snow, I make sure the roads are pretty safe to be driving on so I can get to where I need to go. No matter how good you are at driving or how safe your car is, things can still go wrong and there are other people on the road that can cause accidents. That being said, if you plan on flying in the snow and are planning to drive somewhere, please be careful.

A lot of people have asked me questions about flying when it is still snowing. I have flown in all different kinds of snow, flurries, and even some crazier heavy snow. My best suggestion is to try and wait for the snow to actually stop because it will get your drone a little bit wet depending on how far away or how long you fly. Will your drone be OK if it is wet? More than likely yes, but you probably don't want it to be soaking wet while it is up in the air and away from you for too long. Waiting a little for the snow to stop is also more helpful because you aren't getting snowflakes through your shots and usually everything is still freshly covered in snow which can give your photos a nice wintry feel.

I don't want to be a coach on here telling everyone how to fly in these conditions, but this is the most important part when it comes to flying in the snow: make sure your batteries are warm. If your batteries are too cold to fly, they can spike and the drone may need to land or could come crashing down. I had a problem like this once a while back where my drone started landing because the voltage was too low on the battery. Thankfully I was just flying over trees and the drone was able to make it back for me to land before anything else happened. Make sure you are able to heat up your batteries before even putting them in the drone. It is always good to store your drone in a nice warm place. If you are not using it, make sure you bring it inside and if you are traveling with it, try to put it somewhere in the car where it can stay warm. Sometimes we don't have that luxury but I would definitely recommend trying the best you can to keep the batteries safe.

So your batteries are warm and you are ready to fly? Not exactly. Next thing I do every time I fly in the cold or snow is hover my drone for a few minutes in a safe place right in front of me. I do this to make sure the drone is OK to fly in the weather it is about to be in, so I can see how it reacts when I move it around and most importantly, to make sure the battery has a little more time to warm up through it all. Once I hover and test it for about 3 to 5 minutes, I can fy it away and trust that it will be OK. It is important to also fly it a bit easier than usual in this weather just so nothing goes wrong on you. If you are going to fly in the snow or are planning a trip somewhere cold, try to follow these simple few rules. Winter photos are always awesome to see, but like I said above, you are always better safe than sorry. Good luck out there and fly safe.

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12 Comments

Tim Pumphrey's picture

Great article and great photos! Thanks for the tips as I have been a little hesitant to head out in these cold temps.

Ty Poland's picture

Thank You Tim! And No Problem!

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Great post!

Ty Poland's picture

Thanks Gabrielle!!

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I had a situation a while back with my P3A where the drone was half a mile away when the rain cloud came with wind and I couldn’t get it to move at all. It was fighting against the wind while getting wet. I was then able to lower the elevation and come back safely. It was wet but nothing happened. I tested it out later and surprisingly there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. But I wouldn’t want to have that experience again.
Fly safe, everyone!

Ty Poland's picture

I had a similar situation over the summer with my Inspire 2. I was flying at a lake and these big storm clouds came in and all of a sudden it started to downpour. I was getting soaked so I knew the drone was too. Luckily I was able to get it back and the rain didn't affect it much. I never intended on flying in the rain hahaha but it happens

John Pyle's picture

“Can you spy on people with it”.-every question I get

Today was the 2nd time somebody asked if it could be used to unload a controlled substance from a vehicle if they were being pulled over.

Ty Poland's picture

haha I've gotten that a bunch too. Such a stupid question

Joacim Schwartz's picture

One trick I got from my more experienced drone operators; When flying in cold weather, buy a small cooler (depending on how many batteries and their size) and throw in some disposable heating pads into it. They hold heat for around 4-5 hours.

Ty Poland's picture

Not a bad idea if you've got a day of flying ahead of you

Bill Peppas's picture

maybe also add a black coat on your drone so you can see it if there's a flyaway or accidental drop/crash-landing ( even better, strap a gps tracker on it )