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Do humans change the weather?

For decades groups of people have tried to alter weather
Phillip Williams: WITN Meteorologist
Phillip Williams: WITN Meteorologist(WITN)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 3:54 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - This is not a global warming story. However, it deals with human activity changing the weather. For decades both governments and private groups have tried and succeeded at altering weather.

In the 1970s, the US government tested a program to decrease the intensity of hurricanes. They flew missions into the eye of a hurricane and released silver iodide particles to seed the clouds. This produced rain in what was an otherwise rain-free eye of the storm. The results showed this process could decrease the wind speeds of a hurricane, but only briefly. In several attempts, the storm briefly weakened then came back stronger than before. The program was shelved after a few tries.

The Russian government has had its own program for decades, as well. Moscow hasn’t had rain on a scheduled government-sponsored parade in many, many years. They cloud seed upwind from the Russian capital before parades and other important outdoor events. This makes it rain upwind, so when the air arrives over Moscow, it has rained out and is much drier.

Then there is the case of The Portland General Electric Company from the 1970s. According to an article in the New York Times, the electric company seeded clouds in winter to produce more snow in the mountains. The Spring melt and runoff produced an estimated 50 million kilowatt-hour increase in electricity production at their hydroelectric plants. After complaints about snow-covered roads in winter and some saying they were getting more rain in summer, the company pulled the plug on the cloud seeding program.

Another example of how weather modification, the Seattle airport at one point was spending between 4,000 and 5,000 dollars per month to seed the air at the airport to suppress fog. Seattle’s airport has been known as one of the foggiest airports in the country. By seeding the air, fog dispersed and made landings and takeoffs safer.

Clouds seeding is the most common weather modification. Examples date back to the end of WWII. It has been used for hail suppression, increased irrigation, storm suppression, and hydroelectric power generation, to name a few. So, the next time it rains on you, is it nature, or did mankind help?

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