Experts hope cloud seeding will help with Colorado's drought
Experts are hoping that a weather modification program will increase water from snow storms, possibly ending Colorado's drought.
Andrew Rickert is spearheading cloud seeding in the state. He leads Colorado's weather modification program.
In Western states, some water providers, ski areas and power companies have all injected silver iodide droplets into winter clouds for decades.
In those areas, the winter snows that collect on mountain ranges provide upward of 70 percent of annual precipitation. The idea is that the droplets provide a nucleus within a cloud around which water can coalesce, forming snowflakes.
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"So, you know, as we move into these uncertain times with drought and climate change, that we know that we're doing everything we can to protect ourselves," Rickert told FOX 21 News Colorado.
"You get that orographic lift from the mountains that brings the solution up into the cloud and then creates snowflakes," he continued.
According to the news outlet, in 2020, extra snow from cloud-seeding generated over 300-thousand gallons of water.
From the Pacific Northwest to the Colorado River Basin, irrigation districts already are warning farmers to expect less this year despite growing demands fueled by ever-drying conditions. Climate experts say March marked the third straight month of below-average precipitation across the U.S. and areas of record dryness are expanding in the West.
In April, federal water managers shared their annual operating plan for the Rio Grande, a major water source for millions of people and thousands of square miles of farmland in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. They believe they can keep the river flowing, but it will depend on the weather.
With below-average snow cover and reservoirs in some places reaching critically low levels, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted in its most recent monthly climate report that concerns are mounting that the western drought will intensify.
The Associated Press and FOX News have contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.