‘Cloud seeding’ offers water generation opportunity in Arizona, with some caveats

Sep 20, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 8:48 am

a buoy sits on dry cracked earth...

A scientific process of triggering rain or snow known as “cloud seeding” offers tantalizing possibilities for water creation, especially in areas like drought-stricken Arizona. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

PHOENIX — A scientific process of triggering rain or snow known as “cloud seeding” offers tantalizing possibilities for water creation, especially in areas like drought-stricken Arizona.

Orestes Morfin with Central Arizona Project said the actual process of cloud seeding is fairly simple.

“Cloud seeding… stimulates the generation of ice crystals or precipitation,” he explained. “When you introduce what is called a ‘nucleating agent,’ it just gives a little kickstart for the water in that cloud to start coalescing.”

The most commonly used nucleating agent is silver iodide, and it and other compounds like it can be utilized in a variety of ways.

“There’s the aircraft method, where you fly through the clouds and disperse your nucleating agent,” Morfin said. “There are also ground-based generators.”

However, there’s a caveat: for cloud seeding to be most effective, there’s an element of chance involved.

“There are some storms that just don’t lend themselves well to generating enough snow if you seed them,” Morfin explained. “Predicting the suitability of a storm season… that’s sort of hard to assess.”

Morfin added that many specific weather conditions need to be accounted for.

“[Conditions] including air temperature, the cloud moisture, the wind speed, the direction,” he said. “It is absolutely impossible to know before a winter season how often those conditions will occur.”

That reality has guided the way CAP thinks about cloud seeding. Instead of relying on water from cloud seeding, they instead aim to use the technique whenever possible to boost existing water supplies.

Currently, Morfin said CAP is focused on funding cloud seeding projects upstream to boost snowpack and augment the Colorado river.

However, he added that technological development will continue to make cloud seeding more viable as a potential source of water to bolster our supplies.

“There have been some recent events in particle modeling, using historical weather to determine the most ideal places, [and] some pioneering advancements in the use of radar, ice sensors and weather stations to determine the appropriate time to seed,” Morfin said. “The focus now is on predictability.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Carol Norrs, 86, of Mesa was found dead in the desert on Dec. 11, 2023....

86-year-old Mesa woman found dead in desert nearly month after disappearance

An 86-year-old Mesa woman was found dead in a desert area almost a month after she went missing, authorities said Monday.

6 minutes ago

Protesters shout as they join march around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court decision to ...

Associated Press

Arizona Supreme Court scheduled to hear arguments on abortion law

The Arizona Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday on whether the pre-statehood abortion ban of 1864 should apply.

1 hour ago

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs sits in a classroom with a group of elementary school students in a fi...

Kevin Stone

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs invests $2M in teacher mentoring after task force issues findings

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs didn’t take long to act after her Educator Retention Task Force reported its findings, but there are plenty of issues left to address.

2 hours ago

Crews work to secure a gas leak near Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and 92nd Street on Monday, Dec. 1...

Crews work to secure significant gas leak, restricting traffic in Scottsdale

Traffic was restricted Monday morning on a major Scottsdale through street while crews worked to fix a significant gas leak, authorities said.

4 hours ago

Follow @suelenrivera...

SuElen Rivera

Tickets for ‘Hamilton’ at ASU Gammage in Tempe go on sale

Show tickets to see the Broadway sensation musical "Hamilton" in the summer in Tempe's ASU Gammage went on sale Monday.

5 hours ago

Photos of a secret compartment found in a vehicle stopped in Marana, Arizona, and some of the drugs...

Arizona DPS troopers find fentanyl, cocaine, heroin hidden in secret compartment

Arizona state troopers arrested two people after finding more than 30 pounds of illegal drugs during a traffic stop last week.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.

‘Cloud seeding’ offers water generation opportunity in Arizona, with some caveats