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California looks to cloud seeding to bolster snow pack

SACRAMENTO (AP) With California experiencing a second straight dry year, water agencies are turning to cloud seeding to help pad the states snow ­pack.

The practice has been around for decades, but cloud seeding has gone mainstream as a result of new technology and research showing its reliable, the Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

In a report this year, the California Department of Water Resources estimated cloud seeding projects generate 400,000 acre-feet of additional water supply annually in the state. That's about half the volume of Folsom Reservoir. An acre-foot is enough water to supply a typical household for a year.

“The message is starting to sink in that this is a cost effective tool, said Jeff Tilley, director of weather mod­ification at the Desert Research Institute in Reno. “The technology is better; we understand how to do cloud seeding much better. And because we know how to do it more effectively, it’s definitely taken more seriously.

Cloud seeding involves spraying fine particles of sil­ver iodide into a cloud system. Under the right conditions, the silver iodide causes water droplets in the clouds to form ice crystals that grow larger and turn into snowflakes. The goal is to increase the amount of precipitation that would otherwise fall.

Proponents say cloud seeding is cheaper than desalination, new dams and even conservation projects. Additionally, they say concerns about its environmental effects are unfounded. More than a dozen California watersheds have cloud-seeding projects, many of which began running last week, the Bee reported.

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Comment by Tom OBrien on January 6, 2014 at 4:05pm

Dude! Like 400,000 acre-feet of additional water supply in California and more snow on the slopes too! Whoa!


Comment by Bob Campbell on January 6, 2014 at 1:17pm

Dude - it for snowboarding!  Get your priorities straight.

Comment by Tom OBrien on January 5, 2014 at 5:15pm

"Concerns about environmental effects are unfounded"? So California gets more rain and there is no down side? I'm no weather expert, but it sure seems like taking the moisture out of the air over California means that moisture doesn't travel farther inland. Sounds to me like Cali is taking water from states like Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado.

Comment by Alex Veidel on November 25, 2013 at 7:51pm

Yeah, or you could stop ripping out entire forests to make room for monoculture farming... :P

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