Cloud Seeding Fading Away?

The Wichita Eagle has a good story, via the Associated Press, about the shrinking cloud seeding program in western Kansas.

The most serious problem with cloud seeding is that, at best, it can increase rainfall by roughly 10% over what would have fallen anyway. Meaning, if zero rain would naturally fall, seeding cannot help.

Here is the weather satellite photo with 5pm temperatures. Some areas have had highs above 115° this afternoon. See any rain clouds in the Kansas portion of the photo (where the cloud seeding program is conducted)? Even though rain is desperately needed, there are zero clouds to seed.

Cloud seeding, outside of mountain areas, where the meteorological dynamics of rain and hail are very different has been controversial since its beginnings. I’ve never had any problems with cloud seeding but I question whether the cost/benefit of the additional rain and lessened hail is sufficient for it to continue.

Three Views of a Severe Thunderstorm

From the Smith House.

On radar,

And, on satellite. Note the shadows being cast by the storm with the sun setting in the northwest sky.

This storm has produced 1.5″ hail and 75 mph winds. A tornado warning is for the purple polygon.  The second “tower” farther east has produced golfball-sized hail near Herrington. 

Forecasting 101

Taken in Wichita, looking southwest, at 1:15pm

This type of billowing cloud, when it occurs in the afternoon or evening, is usually precursor of thunderstorms later in the day. The thunderstorms do not always occur at the same site billows. They usually occur within about 50 miles.

The radar (2:35pm CDT) is currently blank. I’ve drawn a 50 mi. radius circle. So, let’s check back and see if this forecast is validated.

Tornado Watch Just Issued

Tornado watch for southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma until 1am Saturday.

Thunderstorms are rapidly developing over the area. This is the radar at 5:55pm.

The storms have begun moving NNE. The storms between Hennessey and the Kansas border are likely producing large hail.

By the way, check two posts down. “Meteorology 101″ worked. You can tell a lot just from the clouds!

Cutting A Path Through the Clouds

I’m in State College for the American Meteorological Society’s Summer Meeting. I was on my way to McD’s (State College is a Pepsi town) to get my morning fix of Diet Coke when I looked up in the parking lot to see the jet plane’s condensation trail cutting through the cirrocumulus clouds (click on photo to enlarge). The soot particles attract the moisture from the ice crystals that make up the cirrocumulus clouds causing the ice crystals to dissipate.