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Cloud Seeding

Bruce Boe of Weather Modification Inc. raises the sampling pit outside of his cabin atop the Snowy Range after a snowstorm in 2009. The sampling pit collected snow and measured concentrations of silver iodide, which is used in the cloud-seeding process.

Wyoming is planning to continue its cloud seeding weather modification program into the winter of 2018.

Wyoming Water Development Commission Director Harry LaBonde told a joint meeting of the commission and the legislature’s Select Water Committee that the effort for the 2017-18 season calls for 10 ground-based generators in the Wind River Mountains, with nine placed on the west flank and one on the east flank.

While Wyoming is overseeing the effort, the $575,000 annual cost is split with downstream states and other entities wishing to participate. Wyoming’s share comes to about a quarter of the expense, or around $155,000, as most of the benefit flows to down-basin water users.

The Wyoming program has been in effect for years, but LaBonde said there is consideration of creating a broader coalition.

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“There was some discussion in the last year about forming a … coalition of states to look at weather modification in the entire basin, and setting up a structure of which projects they might fund, and the funding percentages,” LaBonde said.

Wyoming will continue its program in the meantime. It has been a leader in cloud seeding research, supporting a six-year, $13 million study that showed the practice could increase snow precipitation by 5 percent to 15 percent in a given area, depending on variable weather conditions.

In 2015, the Legislature approved a separate $1.4 million program for cloud seeding in four ranges including the Big Horns, Laramie, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre mountains.

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