Cloud Seeding Presentation Puts Possibilities on the Table

- With Wichita Falls lakes well below the 30% level another year of drought could be disastrous.

That's why the city already has the waste water recycling project ready as soon as testing is complete.

And why now the city is seriously looking into starting a cloud seeding project to squeeze more rain from the sky.

City officials met at the MPEC with officials from some surrounding counties to see how much interest there is in funding the project.

The saying is, "you can't change the weather or mother nature..."  but some city officials think they can give her a nudge and point her in the right direction.

“Place in the cloud, some artificial ice crystals, which take the place of the natural ice that some clouds have but others do not have sufficient to generate a load of rain and release it,” says State Meteorologist George Bomar.

It's a process Bomar says has been working for over a decade in a few areas across Texas.

Texas Tech University has been monitoring results of cloud seeding in Texas for several years using Doppler Radar.

For 2012, the study showed on average,  seeded thunderstorms had a 40% onger life span, covered 47% more area and produced 124% more rain than nearby untreated storms.

Bomar says the results from 2004 to 2012 shows cloud seeding resulted in 20-30% more rain or an extra 2-3 inches.

But the key to success is rapid response when clouds begin forming so officials say they would need a meteorologist monitoring the weather, and a pilot and plane ready to take off at any hour to fire the silver iodide flares into the clouds.

“It's a matter of minutes, a typical thunderstorm will live less than an hour from a time it appears as a very small cumulus,” says Bomar.

But Bomar feels this area should have good results with the process.

“Your far enough east that you typically get a healthy field of thunderstorms on many days in April, May, and June, they're frontally induced, you get air masses from Canada that come down here with some regularity,” says Bomar.

And if it does work, Bomar says you don't have to worry about the safety of the chemicals left behind in the rain water.

“We found very small amounts of silver in some of the samples, the amount of silver showing up in the water that would be consumed by people and by livestock is so small posses no threat to the environment, to the people or to livestock or vegetation,” says Bomar.

Wichita Falls officials are working on a six month contract with seeding operations and atmospheric research for a cloud seeding trial,  it's expected to cost 50 thousand dollars a month.

They are hoping 8 surrounding counties will go in on the project with them as well as the Wichita County Irrigation District and AEP power.

At this time there are still many factors to consider before the proposal goes to the city council for a final decision.

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