Knowing When to Cloud Seed - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Knowing When to Cloud Seed

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Wichita Falls is trying to battle the drought with cloud seeding.  However, cloud seeding cannot be done everyday.  The atmosphere has to be unstable and contain an ample amount of moisture.

"The higher the precipitable water and stronger the instability the greater the affect the seeding will have," said contract meteorologist for Seeding Operations and Atmospheric Research (S.O.A.R.) Dave Newsom.  "I am monitoring radar and I am taking measurements on intensity and vertically integrated liquid water contents of the clouds," he said.

If the clouds or storms are not moving toward the water shed, then they are not going to be seeded.  Newsom said he is not going to waste time or money on clouds that are not worth it.

"You want to go for towering cumulus clouds that are going to develop into cumulonimbus that is how you can get the most water or the most bang for your buck," said Newsom.

Newsom said the best type of thunderstorms to seed are the moderate ones.  The smaller ones do not produce as much rain, but the bigger ones are too dangerous.

"Once the National Weather Service puts out a Severe Thunderstorm Warning we are done.  We don't seed in severe conditions that can have the potential to produce hail or tornadoes," said Newsom.

Even though Newsom decides if they are going to cloud seed.  The pilot determines how many flares they are going to use based on the strength of the storm's inflow.

"Weak inflows of 200 to 300 feet per minute inflow, he will burn a couple.  If he gets into an area where it is 500, 600 or up to 1000 feet per minute than we will seed that one pretty good because you are fairly certain it is taking that material into the sweet spot of the storm," said Newsom.

However, more flares doesn't mean more rain. Newsom said it is almost impossible to tell. 

Newsom has over 30 years of experience and thinks cloud seeding is going to help.  He said it has worked in places all over the world.

He also said that there is no record of cloud seeding turning a storm severe or tornadic.

James Parish, Newschannel 6