Reader comment: Garrett Kelly says,
I'm interning here in Beijing for Nokia over the summer. For the past several weeks, we've been experiencing the oddest weather -- almost every day has been beautiful cool and sunny...but at night, come 7PM-ish, the sky turns forebodingly dark and we get these magnificent thunderstorms that last well into the early morning hours.
I asked my boss at work today why this was happening, because apparently rain in Beijing during the summer is quite unusual. He told me over dinner that there are actually people who launch these rockets filled with chemicals into the clouds, which causes the rainfall. I had a hard time believing him -- I jokingly mentioned it had to be some conspiracy theory about some stranded Russian scientists in Siberia left over from the cold war.
Anyways, I decided to use the ol' JFGI (Just Fucking Google It) Philosophy to see what turned up. What I got was unexpected -- apparently this cloud-seeding business is pretty common, but I've never seen it used in the US before. This article I found was particularly informative, but this recent Reuters article really tipped me off to the whole thing when I googled for "Rain in Beijing."
One of my friends who's into the whole weatherwars.info stuff once sent me this link to a U.S. company: weathermod.com. I thought it must be a joke, but I even called them late at night and someone picked up the phone and said in a matter of fact voice, "thanks for calling Weather Modification Inc., how can I help you?"Todd Hartman says,
There has been interest in cloud seeding in the United States, though it has not been publicized all that much. The NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory - Hurricane Research Division has been looking at cloud seeding as a method for lessening the impact of hurricanes. Link.Margot Kaminski says,
i worked as a ski instructor in colorado this past winter, and there was/is definite talk of cloudseeding in the us for major ski resorts. helps them out with snow conditions. Link, and another.Ookami Snow says,
In Western Kansas cloud seeding is a common practice. I am not sure who is in charge of doing it, but for almost any large thunderstorm you can see a small airplane flinging into the storm going to release the rain causing chemicals. The reason that they seed the large thunderstorms is so that it rains and the storm loses energy so that it will not produce hail, which would damage the crops. I was not aware that people did not know that this was going on in America, because I can remember this practice going on for as long as I have lived in Western Kansas.Eric Lee says,
I saw your post about the cloud-seeding and was reminded of a news clipping that my Earth Science professor in college shared with us. Back in 1916, one Charles Hatfield was able to seed the clouds in San Diego to fix the hardcore drought that had been doing on since 1912. It produced so much rain that excessive flooding took place in Mission Valley which ended up causing the rupturing of dams, and I even think a few deaths. And then he sued the people who hired him for not paying up! Link to articleOli says,
There was the suggestion that a storm that almost wiped out Lynmouth (a town in Cornwall, England) in the 1950's was actually the direct result of the British Government toying with weather-seeding.Carl Malamud says,
From Wikipedia - "In 2001, a BBC Radio 4 documentary featured suggestions that the events of 1952 were connected to government cloud seeding experiments being conducted in southern England at the time. There does not presently seem to be any direct evidence to support such allegations, but conspiracy theories have been fuelled by rumours of missing or destroyed government documents relating to the experiments."
In reference to your post about weather seeding and Charles Hatfield, I can't recommend enough "The Wizard of Sun City: The Strange True Story of Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker Who Drowned a City's Dreams" by Garry Jenkins. Available at your local independent bookstore.Amazon link.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.