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Media Advisory: DRI Performs First Cloudseeding of the Season


Reporters and Editors, Please Note:

WHO: Desert Research Institute

WHAT:Performed first cloudseeding of the season

WHERE: Three ground generators in the Lake Tahoe region and seven generators in the Walker Basin

WHEN: Seeding of the Lake Tahoe Basin began at 8:00 p.m. last night, Oct. 19, and at 7:00 p.m. last night at the Walker Basin. Seeding of the Lake Tahoe Basin ended today at 3:15 p.m. and ended at the Walker Basin today at 3:25 p.m.

BACKGROUND: The Desert Research Institute has been a pioneer in the science of increasing winter snow pack for more than 30 years. DRI's atmospheric scientists are acknowledged leaders in the development of seeding methods, analyzing effectiveness and targeting accuracy, and applying remote sensing technology to determine if storm systems are suitable for seeding. The State of Nevada Cloud Seeding Project now covers the Tahoe-Truckee and Carson-Walker watersheds in western Nevada, the Humboldt River's watershed in the Ruby Mountains near Elko, the Tuscarora watershed area and in the Toiyabe Mountains of central Nevada. Analyses of seeding effectiveness shows cloud seeding can increase snowfall by about a tenth of an inch an hour.

DRI's cloud seeding efforts have produced an estimated annual increase of between 35,000 and 55,000 acre-feet of water in the snowpack during normal operating years. (acre-foot = one acre covered by a foot of water or about 330,000 gallons--about the amount a family uses in a year). The annual project cost is about $480,000, funded by Nevada taxpayers, putting the cost of water produced by cloud seeding between $10 and $15 an acre-foot. Market prices typically range from $400 (agricultural) to $2,500 (residential) per acre-foot.

The program uses equipment called generators located on mountain ridges west of­ Lake Tahoe, in the watersheds of the Carson and Walker rivers south of Tahoe, and in the foothills of the Ruby Mountains in eastern Nevada. The generators create a fine smoke of silver iodide parti­cles that disperses into clouds that form over the mountains. A cloud seeding aircraft contracted from a private firm is also used to augment the ground-based seeding in the Carson-Walker and Tahoe watersheds. This cloudseeding is one of the earliest seeding operations DRI has experienced in the last decade. For more information, visit: