Cloud Seeding Program

Program Description

During the early 1960s, scientists from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) helped to pioneer the science of wintertime cloud seeding, developing research-based methods for increasing winter snowpack and subsequent snowmelt runoff across mountainous regions of the Western US. Since the DRI Cloud Seeding Research Program’s early days, our team of experts has conducted continuous research and development to create time-tested cloud seeding methods that are proven to enhance snowfall from winter storms. DRI’s cloud seeding projects are conducted in an environmentally safe manner, increasing the precipitation formation efficiencies of passing clouds to support the water needs of local communities and ecosystems.

DRI’s team of scientists and technicians work year-round to design, maintain, and operate successful cloud seeding projects for state, local, and federal partner agencies. During the 2022-2023 winter season (November – May), DRI will conduct cloud seeding research and operations in six mountain ranges including the Lake Tahoe Basin (CA/NV), Spring Mountains (NV), Ruby Mountains (NV), Santa Rosa Mountains (NV), the San Juan Mountains (CO), and in the Upper Colorado River Headwaters region along the Continental Divide in northern Colorado. DRI cloud seeding generators will also be operated over the Grand Mesa in western Colorado.

In addition to designing and conducting cloud seeding projects for specific partner agencies, DRI’s team monitors the results of cloud seeding operations via a network of precipitation stations. The team is also actively involved in subfreezing cloud physics research, including studies of clouds that cause icing on aircraft, and the effects of air pollution on clouds structures and storms. The cloud seeding research program is operated by DRI’s Division of Atmospheric Sciences, and based out of DRI’s Northern Nevada Science Center in Reno, Nev.

Map of DRI’s Nevada cloud seeding sites. 
DRI also operates cloud seeding sites in Colorado.

cloud seeding maintenance

Making it Snow: A Brief History and Review of the Science Behind Cloud-Seeding

Scientists can now regularly harness cloud moisture and pull it to Earth, bringing water to parched communities and landscapes around the world.  


Frank McDonough, M.S.
Program Director 


Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512


Atmospheric Sciences