Cloud Seeding Operations Planned to Start in Tahoe Basin - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Cloud Seeding Operations Planned to Start in Tahoe Basin

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"What we hope to be able to do is seed the storms as intelligently and optimally as possible so we really get the most water out of them that we possibly can."

Jeff Tilley is the director of Weather Modification at the Desert Research Institute and has studied it for almost two decades.

He says cloud seeding isn't anything new - it's been done since the 1960s.

Cloud seeding works by using ground-based generators and planes to release silver iodide into the clouds during a storm to generate more precipitation -- seeding doesn't create the storm, it just enhances it by squeezing more water out of the clouds.

The DRI estimates cloud seeding adds about 10% more moisture to the air, but it needs very specific conditions to happen. "We need air flow up over the Sierra barrier from the west and going to the east or northeast typically. We need temperatures at about 10,000 foot level about 23 above and -4 Fahrenheit. And we need those conditions to persist for a few hours at least."

Cloud seeding stations are operated remotely. For example, using a computer at the Desert Research Institute to turn cloud seeding on and off.

In an average year, billions of gallons of moisture are collected from cloud seeding. Tilley says it's not likely we will reach that number this year because of our dry start to winter, but this latest storm is expected to help. "The current forecasts expected at higher elevations are anywhere between 1-2 feet of snow and we would expect anywhere from about an extra 1/2 to 3 inches."

DRI researchers also wanted to clarify they are not using drones this year for the seeding.

The Drone Cloud Seeding Program is still in the very beginning stages so they have no plans to use drones this season. They will likely start testing the program this fall and will start using it beginning next year.

Written by Chloe Beardsley

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