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Cloud seeding, not worth the cost

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When a drought strikes, like now, people who need rain become desperate for a water source. State lawmakers have been pondering the possibility of cloud-seeding in Oklahoma.

However, a new study says modifying the weather to make rain is not worth it.

News on 6 reporter Jennifer Loren says cloud seeding is a man-made way to make rain by dropping chemicals into clouds. Only we're not really making it. We’re simply helping out a storm that has the potential to make rain. Jim Giles, News on 6 Meteorologist: "If we don't have clouds that are so saturated that they're ready to dump rain, cloud seeding in dry air is totally meaningless."

So people who think cloud-seeding is a good way to help us out of our current drought are out of luck. "Will cloud seeding make a difference when it's not going to rain anyway? And the answer to that is no, certainly not." Dr. Jeffrey Basara is with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey in Norman.

They recently completed a study that found cloud seeding, even when it does work, is probably not worth the expense. The study surveyed 14 areas in Texas and Oklahoma that had done cloud seeding projects. Of those 14, only 7 showed an increase in rainfall. And that increase was less than 5 percent. "A case like this where we are dealing with such enormous rainfall deficits like we are in Oklahoma right now, the question is, are marginal gains in cloud seeding beneficial in any way shape or form?"

Our experts say no. Jim Giles: “to seed what we're seeing is of total, no value at all. I mean it's a total loss."

But one thing we can do is look into the benefits of conserving our water. Dr Jeffrey Basara: "Is it wise to be watering our lawns right now in the middle of a drought just so they can look green? That's a question we all need to answer individually and as communities.”

Experts at the City of Tulsa say right now our water supply is adequate. But rural areas outside of Tulsa also rely on our water, so conservation is always a good idea.
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