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Surprising Science

Los Angeles County is “Seeding” Clouds to Produce More Rain

Drought-stricken Los Angeles County fired silver iodide into clouds during this winter’s El Niño as part of a process designed to elicit up to 15% more rainfall. This form of weather-manipulation is called cloud-seeding.

Drought-stricken Los Angeles County is “seeding” its clouds in hopes of “growing” more rain, the Los Angeles Timesreports.

Cloud-seeding, a form of weather manipulation dating back to the 1940s, involves some neat and simple science:

“Generators shoot silver iodide into the clouds, creating ice particles. Water vapor freezes onto those particles, which fall as rain.

Cloud seeding cannot create clouds, but it increases the amount of rainfall from existing clouds… The county estimates that seeded clouds produce about 15% more rainfall.” (LA Times)

California is in the midst of an underwhelming El Niño, a weather pattern that had been expected to drop large amounts of rain on the extremely thirsty state. L.A. County Department of Public Works officials elected to restart their cloud-seeding program for the first time since 2002, and will likely continue to seed clouds through the remainder of the humble “wet” season.

Cloud-seeding occurs in regions around the world and was reportedly utilized to create clear skies to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.

Photo: logoboom / Shutterstock

Source: LA Times


Robert Montenegro is a writer and dramaturg who regularly contributes to Big Think and Crooked Scoreboard. He lives in Washington DC and is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @Monteneggroll. Website:


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