From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):
Western Weather Consultants has applied for a permit to perform cloud seeding intended to increase snowfall in the Central Colorado mountains, including parts of Lake, Chaffee and Summit counties.
Sponsors of the application include the Colorado River Conservation District, the Front Range Water Council and the ski areas of Keystone, Breckenridge and Winter Park.
Western’s proposed weather modification program would use silver iodide crystals from ground-based “cloud nuclei generators” to seed clouds favorable for precipitation increases.
Information on the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) website indicates that precipitation from some clouds is limited by a shortage of “natural ice nuclei.” Silver iodide crystals seeded into the clouds become “artificial cloud nuclei.”
Ultimately, that enables clouds seeded with silver iodide “to grow larger, process more water vapor and yield more precipitation.”
The program goals, as stated in the legal notice, are to increase precipitation, snowpack and snow-water content “to benefit natural habitat, agriculture, municipal water, stock growers, recreational and tourism interests and the local economy.”
The American Meteorological Society and the World Meteorological Organization support the effectiveness of winter cloud-seeding projects, indicating that between 5 and 20 percent more snow is produced in target areas.
Data from Western’s operations show precipitation increases ranging from approximately 10 to 20 percent, and the company has operated cloud-seeding programs for more than 40 years in the San Juan and Central Colorado mountains.
During the 2011-12 season, Western’s data show increased snowfall from its cloud-seeding operations of 8 to 16 inches, resulting in an additional 55,253 acre-feet of water.
According to the CWCB, Western has previously held two sequential five-year permits for cloud seeding in this target area, which is generally above an elevation of 8,500 feet.
Western proposes to operate the cloud-seeding program from Nov. 1 through April 15 under another five-year CWCB permit.
According to Western and the CWCB, safeguards will limit weather modification operations based on daily monitoring of the snowpack’s snow-water equivalent, avalanche hazard levels and National Weather Service severe weather statements.
According to Western’s operational plan, “No seeding will be initiated during a period of ‘high potential hazard.’”
Complete details of the operations to be conducted are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org…
Anyone unable to attend the public hearing can submit comments by email through Oct. 2 at email@example.com. Written comments may also be mailed by Oct. 2 to: Joe Busto, CWCB, 1313 Sherman St. No. 721, Denver, CO 80203.
All public comments will be considered for the record of decision.
For a copy of the map or application for this project, visit http://cwcb.state.co.us/water-management/water-projects-programs/Pages/PermitProgram.aspx.