Pioneer Canal and Laramie River by Tony Bergantino
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Wyoming Weather Modification Program: Background


Photo: North American Weather Modification Council, (nawmc.org)

Cloud seeding is the process of releasing small amounts of silver iodide (a natural compound) through either ground-based generators or aircraft into specific types of clouds in order to assist in the precipitation process. In Wyoming, cold season cloud seeding is utilized during the winter months to help increase snowpack over mountain ranges.

Current technology dates back to 1946, when scientists working at General Electric Research Laboratory discovered that silver iodide and dry ice could be used to enhance the formation of ice crystals within certain types of clouds at specific temperatures. Research and development efforts over the last 60 years, and particularly over the last five years, have led to a vastly improved understanding of the precipitation process, and how advanced seeding methods can naturally enhance the formation of precipitation, ultimately leading to snow pack augmentation and an increase in water supply.

The State of Wyoming became interested in cloud seeding in the early 2000's, as a way to address drought mitigation. In 2004, a 10-year robust study was conducted on the viability and efficiency of cloud seeding technology over Wyoming mountain ranges. In 2014, as a result of positive conclusions from Wyoming's Weather Modification Pilot Study, cloud seeding operations began over the Wind River Mountain Range. Currently, operational cloud seeding efforts continue across parts of the state. All published information on cloud seeding research and operational activities are available to the public.

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