Cloud Seeding For Snow Actually Works, It Turns Out

Idaho Power’s Derek Blestrud and Brandal Glenn study the type of snow that’s falling as a result of cloud seeding.

Aaron Kunz/EarthFix

Scientists are one step closer to making more snow fall during winter storms. The controversial process is called cloud seeding. There’s now evidence that it is actually working.

Cloud seeding isn’t a new idea — in fact, experiments to increase snow production in storms have been studied since the 1940s. But the technology has been pretty limited. Scientists weren’t able to figure out if their efforts were paying off.

Until now.

Researchers used instruments that measured microscopic particles as they flew up to 200 miles per hour through stormy clouds over southwestern Idaho.

Jeff French, with the University of Wyoming and the study’s lead researcher, said, as the plane swooped through sometimes dangerously icy conditions, crystal clear data immediately streamed in.

“We were able to make the first observations that showed what happens in a cloud,” French said.

The cloud seeding was making the snowfall heavier.

Cloud seeding is the theory that you can increase the amount of precipitation a storm produces. For this project, researchers used a plane to release a material called silver iodide into clouds. The particles attract water droplets and freeze to help produce more snow or rain in the storm.

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