Cloud seeding works by injecting silver iodide into storm clouds. That can be done by dropping the chemical from a plane or firing it through a cannon according to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, but the common method is less flashy. Operators in Colorado burn silver iodide at high-altitude generators to inject the chemical into an approaching weather system.
The technology holds the promise of providing additional snow to ski resorts and water to residents and farmers. But until last year, most weren't sure if cloud seeding even worked.
A 10-year, $15 million study funded by the Wyoming legislature put the technology to the test. During winter storms, the scientists seeded either the Wind River Range or Medicine Bowl Range. The range without seeding served as a control.
Barry Lawrence of the Wyoming Water Development Office presented the results of the study to a group of Colorado water regulators in Dolores on Wednesday:
“Our independent evaluator, the National Center for Atmospheric Science in Boulder, concluded cloud seeding from the experiment resulted in 5 to 15 percent in additional precipitation.”
That evidence should prop up existing cloud seeding operations in Southwest Colorado, even though some critics say the study isn't definitive. This last winter, 25 mountain-top generators in Colorado dispersed silver iodide into storm clouds for 875 hours at a cost of $105,678.
You are one of the CPR readers who wants to know what is really going on these days. We can help you keep up - The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!