Question Is Vail Resorts still quietly doing their cloud seeding? If so, did they do it this year even with near record snowfall? Does their cloud seeding have any effect on the below average participation of the areas east of them?
Answer Vail Resorts doesn’t hide the fact that it has seeded clouds since the 1976-77 season. The program is run by Larry Hjermstad of Western Weather Consultants out of Durango. The program uses silver iodide that’s emitted from several of about 17 cloud-seeding generators. The generators are between 12 and 20 miles away from the mountains, Hjermstad said.
In fact, the large number of storms in the area this winter allowed for more frequent cloud seeding, Hjermstad said. With Vail and Beaver Creek getting the most snowfall in nine years, Hjermstad said part of that record snowfall was due to cloud seeding.
Vail Resorts used up its cloud seeding “hours” a bit early, ending around Jan. 20, Hjermstad said. The cloud-seeding season usually runs from the beginning of November to the end of January. Hjermstad estimates that cloud seeding can increase snowfall from anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent.
However, a 2003 National Research Council report concluded that there’s no proof that weather modification efforts are effective.
Cloud seeding at Vail and Beaver Creek mountains do not decrease snowfall at resorts to the east, Hjermstad said. Research and observations show there’s no detectable effect and, if anything, a slight increase in snowfall as far as 100 miles downwind, Hjermstad said. — E.S.
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