Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Can we really modify the weather?...

Posted 9/03/19 (Tue)

Most readers know that I’ve written numerous articles about weather modification, or cloud seeding, over the past several years.

Lately, a number of people have asked me what I think of weather modification. Another suggested I write an article using all the facts in front of me and let the chips fall where they may.

Unfortunately, I’ve written about all the articles I can write without beginning to speculate on the phenomenon.

There are only a few counties in North Dakota that pay for and use weather modification. Ward and Bowman counties are two in which there seem to be fierce battles every year on whether or not it’s worth it.

Then, there are those who believe that God is going to strike us down by lightning for altering the path of nature.

Whether you believe it or not, cloud seeding is happening and has been for the past 57 years in North Dakota.

So why is there a debate now?

One reason is we’ve gone through a three-year drought and now all of a sudden, we spent a good part of July and August dealing with ‘monsoon’ rains.

Another reason is the cost. Like anything else, costs increase and in this case, they are passed on to the taxpayer.

For those naysayers, I could provide examples of how cloud seeding works until the cows come home. For those who believe in it, there are examples of how it doesn’t always work or how clouds seeded in one county make it rain in another because of natural drift of cloud formations.

The reason I haven’t written a new article about weather modification up until now is because there was no new information.

All the data compiled, or at least all the data in the public domain, is dated, some of it going back 40 years and to write about it is doing nothing more than regurgitating it again.

I would challenge science to provide new data, new statistics and new theses on why this works or why it does not.

Those in favor of weather modification have had it banged into this reporter’s head that it’s not designed to make it rain more, it’s designed to suppress hail.

And when the silver iodide breaks up the hail, larger water droplets fall to earth so rain becomes a residual bonus.

Crop insurance companies and those that insure vehicles are very interested in weather modification because we all know hail can wipe out entire fields of wheat.

The province of Alberta did a hail suppression project several years ago, not because of crops, but because it was beating the dickens out of houses and killing some livestock in southern Alberta.

The hail became less, but how do you quantify it when you have no data to compare?

But if you could suddenly appear on a sidewalk in downtown Calgary, a city of nearly 2 million people, and ask the first person you see what they think of cloud seeding, they’ll tell you it saved the city from catastrophic damage.

But then there is no real proof that catastrophic damage ever occurred from hail in Calgary.

Locally, some people say Ward County taxpayers are wasting money because the clouds move into McHenry County and that’s where it rains. There may be some truth in that, but if you watch radar during a storm, those systems are moving all over the map. Some of them literally sit still.

One thing I can say in favor of weather modification is that on June 14, 2018, baseball-sized hail hit Estevan, Oxbow and Carnduff in Saskatchewan before moving into Manitoba and doing damage in Lyleton, Melita, Deloraine and Killarney.

Saskatchewan doesn’t participate in any cloud modification project. North Dakota does, at least Burke, Williams, Mountrail and Ward counties do.

I know the clouds were seeded that day and here in the Kenmare area, we could see the dark and heavy clouds across the border. We didn’t see the damage, but we certainly saw the cloud formations.

Lignite, Portal, Flaxton, Kenmare, Bowbells, Mohall nor Westhope received any measurable hail. It was just heavy rain.

Weather doesn’t usually recognize the Canadian border, but in this case it did because of where the cloud seeding took place.

Once again, there needs to be new and supporting data to put a fresh spin on this.

You would think there would be some ambitious college students working on masters degrees in meteorology who could produce the data the public now demands.