LUBBOCK, Texas -- The second year of a precipitation enhancement program within a 10-million-acre target area in the Texas High Plains and the east central part of New Mexico began in early May.
Precipitation enhancement, or cloud seeding, attempts to stimulate clouds to generate more rainfall than they would otherwise by adding silver iodide as a seeding agent. The silver iodide provides additional condensation nuclei that can allow more cloud moisture to be converted to large raindrops that can survive the fall through the dry sub-cloud layer and reach the ground as meaningful rainfall.
"We are excited about the second year of the precipitation enhancement program," said James P. Mitchell of Wolfforth, president of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 Board of Directors. "Any additional rainfall generated as a result of this program may help reduce groundwater pumpage and increase natural recharge. This will help extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer within the Texas High Plains and a portion of New Mexico."
Weather Modification Inc. (WMI) of Fargo returns as the contractor for the 1998 Texas/New Mexico project. Under the contract, WMI provides a licensed meteorologist who selects clouds suitable for seeding using a weather radar display, standard meteorological data and forecasting procedures, surface weather observations, and pilot reports. Based on this information, the meteorologist in the C-band radar unit at the Littlefield airport can direct aircraft stationed at Amarillo, Lubbock, and Portales to dispense silver iodide at cloud-top levels into the selected clouds.
The program target area includes Bailey, Castro, Cochran, Hale, Hockley, Lubbock, Lamb, Lynn, Parmer, Terry, and Yoakum Counties, as well as portions of Armstrong, Crosby, Deaf Smith, Floyd, Potter, and Randall Counties. Curry, Roosevelt, and southwestern Quay counties make up the New Mexico target area.
Information about the 1998 precipitation enhancement program is available on the internet at the High Plains Water District home page (www.hpwd.com).
"Persons accessing this portion of the Water District's web site will be able to view a wide range of data relating to the precipitation enhancement program," said Carmon McCain, Information/Education Director. "The precipitation enhancement project page provides links to current radar images of the target area, a map of the target area, aircraft flight tracks for each cloud seeding mission, weekly flight log narratives, a precipitation enhancement fact sheet, and hot links to the home pages for the Amarillo and Lubbock National Weather Service offices."
Project sponsors are the High Plains Water District in Lubbock, the Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District in Plains, the South Plains Underground Water Conservation District in Brownfield, and the Llano Estacado Weather Modification Association representing the New Mexico counties.
Each sponsor pays a pro-rata share of the fixed and reimbursable costs based on the total number of acres in the target area. With a 10 million-acre target area, the program will cost approximately $500,000 which translates to about five cents per acre. However, if there are above-average opportunities for cloud seeding this growing season, the cost could increase to eight cents per acre. The State of Texas will also pay 50 percent of the operating costs within the Texas target area this year. These reimbursable costs are paid through the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) in Austin.
Additional information about the 1998 precipitation enhancement program is available by contacting the High Plains Water District, 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79405-1499 or by calling (806) 762-0181.
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