LYONS, Colo. (KDVR) – Colorado has been working with Mother Nature to squeeze a bit more snow out of the clouds since the ’70s. Now, cloud seeding is being put to the test for the first time on the Front Range with a new state-approved site in Boulder County.
FOX31 got an inside look at the facility.
“Under the right conditions, you can add anywhere from 5% to 10% more snowfall from a storm when you are operating cloud seeding generators,” St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District Water Resource Engineer Scott Griebling said.
Griebling explained that with seeding, when a storm rolls in with cold temperatures and strong winds, they vaporize silver iodide into the clouds to increase the number of water droplets that become ice crystals and, eventually, snowflakes.
“This is a really safe and cost-effective way of bringing more water to our basin,” he said. “The chemicals that are used have shown no environmental impact and they are using such a tiny amount that they are really not detectable in the environment.”
The pilot program in the Front Range launched in December. There are two generators to cover the area, including the one FOX31 visited near Lyons Thursday.
So far, Griebling said they’ve operated six storms this winter, including Wednesday’s.
“We’re hoping to increase flows by 1,000 to 2,000 acre-feet in the Front Range just with this pilot program,” Griebling said. “With everything that’s going on in the Colorado River Basin, the more we can shore up our local supplies, it just builds redundancy and resiliency against drought allows more water for everyone on the Front Range to use.”
Each of the state’s approved seeding sites produces a report at the end of the year showing how successful these programs are. Last year’s reports 7 inches of additional snow in the central mountains and 30 inches of extra powder in Winter Park.
Gribeling said they will see the success in the Front Range after this first season and then assess if the program should expand to additional locations.