From the SummitDaily (Jack Queen) via The Aspen Times:
[Larry] Hjermstad and his company, Western Weather Consultants, now run cloud seeding programs across the state, including in Summit County.
For decades, local ski areas have paid him to send plumes of silver iodide up to their slopes when opportune storms approach, squeezing out a couple of extra inches of snow each time.
In recent years, however, water managers on the Front Range and even states further down the Colorado River have started to pitch in some of the $250,000 to $300,000 it costs to run the program in the Summit County area, hoping the extra snow will flow into their water system when it melts.
Here, in the Central Colorado Mountains River Basin, the company operates about 36 cloud seeding generators. They’re small, almost homebrew-looking devices that burn a solution of inert silver iodide and send it into the atmosphere.
Some of the generators are on private land, and when Western Weather Consultants detects an optimal storm coming, it sends instructions to the landowners to fire them up. It varies, but Hjermstad says the process can boost snowfall by as much as 25 percent…
SNAKE OIL OR SCIENCE?
The concept of cloud seeding has been around since the 1940s, when Bernard Vonnegut (brother of author Kurt) discovered that silver iodide could produce ice crystals when introduced into cloud chambers.
In those heady days, cloud seeding was heralded as a way to produce rain where there was none, boosting crop yields and filling reservoirs to the brim.
That was a wild overstatement, and cloud seeding’s reputation suffered for it…
Studies in Australia and Israel have debunked the idea that airplanes spewing silver iodide willy-nilly will do much of anything. But a targeted approach that hits the right clouds at the right time high in the mountains has gained scientific currency in recent years.