Can I Fly My Drone In The Winter?

drone launching in winter

by Dragon Drones, 3 mins read

Good afternoon everyone!  We're back with another blog post on whether or not you can fly your drone in the winter.  In Chicago, the seasons are turning rather rapidly (or at least that's what it feels like!), so this is a question we often get asked as we get closer to the holiday season.  What do we need to know about drones and winter time?

drone in winter forest

Wind Shear and Speed

Wind speeds are typically higher in the winter time because of a few seasonal quirks.  First, there's no leaves on trees to slow or break up the wind, so it gets windier closer to the ground, which is dangerous for landing and takeoff.  Additionally, because the ground is more uniform with snowfall, this increases wind speed as well.

Wind sheer is also something to be concerned about in a winter setting.  While wind sheer is always something to keep in the back of your mind, snow and ice can make weird shapes that the wind moves over, especially off of roofs.  When flying in the winter, we typically try to stay further away from buildings, especially tall ones or ones with slanted roofs. 

snow blowing off house roof

White on White

It's hard to see a drone against a white background!  Granted, your drone might be a different color, but white on white is always going to be a problem.  According to the FAA rules, you have to operate your drone within eyesight range at all times.  If you can't see it with your own two eyes (no binoculars allowed!) then you're in violation of FAA regulations.  If you're flying out of eyesight, you need a waiver under CFR Part 107, which is the federal code that regulates drone (UAV) flying.  When the sky is overcast white, it's super hard to see your drone, so you need to stay lower to the ground.

winter drone shot overhead

Battery Life

Cold saps battery life and expected runtime.  The colder temperatures will decrease your effective battery life and also your flight time.  There's also a downward temperature operating range for drones.  If it gets too cold, you'll just not be able to take off and the drone will stop working.  This temperature gets colder the higher up you go as well, which is dangerous.  Your drone may be outside of its operating parameters quite quickly, which could lead to a crash.

drone battery and charger

Propeller Icing

A less common, but still worrisome phenomenon is the icing of your propellers (also called props) on the drone.  This means that somehow the propellers were exposed to water, ice or snow and it's started to collect on the surface of the thin propellers.  This is extremely dangerous, as everything might look fine one second, and the next your drone is dropping like a stone.  Icing on the propellers is hard to see or diagnose (especially in-flight) and is a very serious in-flight emergency that requires you to land immediately.  If this happens, you should not attempt to fly again in that weather, even with a different set of propellers.  

drone propeller

Christmas Day

Finally, drones are quite common as gifts on Christmas!  If you get a drone for Christmas, please be aware of all the concerns that we've highlighted, and then watch out for drones around you, especially in cities.  Novice pilots won't know how to respond to an in-flight emergency well, and this includes drone on drone collisions.  Be careful when you're taking your new drone up on Christmas Day!

drone with santa hat on funny humor


Yes, you can fly your drone in the winter - but as you've just read, there's some caveats to be aware of.  Just be mindful and understand that winter is a bit different than summer, fall and spring.  Be careful and safe flying out there - and if you're needing some additional help with your projects this winter, please feel free to reach out to us directly on our Get a Quote page, or email!

drone over england