LUBBOCK, Texas -- The target area for a regional rainfall enhancement program has been extended to include three New Mexico counties following approval of a weather modification permit by the New Mexico Weather Control and Cloud Modification Commission recently.
"The Texas Central Southern High Plains Rainfall Enhancement Program target area now includes Curry, Roosevelt, and southwestern Quay Counties of New Mexico. Rainfall enhancement operations in these counties began May 8 and will continue until August 31, 1999," said A. Wayne Wyatt, manager of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 in Lubbock.
In addition to the three counties in the target area, the permit also allows pilots to fly within a buffer zone that includes the eastern parts of DeBaca, Chaves, and Guadalupe Counties, northern Lea County, and northern Quay County of New Mexico.
Rainfall enhancement, or cloud seeding, is an attempt 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 enough raindrops to survive the fall through the dry sub-cloud layer and reach the ground as meaningful rainfall.
Weather Modification, Incorporated (WMI) of Fargo, North Dakota, returns as the contractor for the 1999 project. WMI pilots and their aircraft are stationed at Amarillo, Lubbock, and Portales. From the C-band radar unit at Littlefield Municipal Airport, project meteorologist Aaron Gilstad instructs the pilots to eject flares or ignite wingtip generators to dispense silver iodide into selected clouds within the target area.
Addition of the New Mexico counties makes it easier to conduct weather modification activities along the Texas-New Mexico state line. "By adding additional counties to the target area, the pilots have a better opportunity to seed clouds to enhance rainfall in southeastern New Mexico and along the Texas-New Mexico state line," he said.
The rainfall enhancement program sponsors are the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, the Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District, the South Plains Underground Water Conservation District, and the Llano Estacado Weather Modification Association in New Mexico.
Participants in the rainfall enhancement program each pay a pro-rata part of the fixed and reimbursable costs based upon total acreage.
The High Plains Water District pays 63.1 percent of the fixed and reimbursable costs based upon its 6.8 million acre service area. Roosevelt County pays 14.4 percent of the costs based upon its 1.5 million acre area, and Curry County pays 8.2 percent of the costs based upon its 897,760 acre area. Southwestern Quay County pays 4.4 percent of the costs based upon 479,950 acres. The South Plains Water District pays 5.2 percent of the costs based upon 570,112 acres, and the Sandy Land Water District pays 4.7 percent based upon 511,808 acres.
Additional information about the 1999 rainfall enhancement program is available on the Internet at the High Plains Water District home page, www.hpwd.com. Clicking on the precipitation enhancement program button provides links to current radar images of the target area, a map of the target area, aircraft flight tracks for each seeding session, weekly flight log narratives, a precipitation enhancement fact sheet, and links to the home pages for the Amarillo and Lubbock National Weather Service Forecast Offices and Weather Modification, Incorporated.
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