SHERIDAN— The Sheridan area may be next on the list to undergo cloud seeding.
Officials from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Weather Modification, Inc. and Heritage Environmental Consultants, LLC met with members of the public yesterday to kick off a feasibility study for potential cloud seeding operations in the Bighorn Mountains.
The study, which is expected to last around one year, will look at the potential impacts of cloud seeding in the Bighorn range and will primarily be conducted in both Sheridan and Big Horn counties in Wyoming. The feasibility study was made possible due to an increased funding from the Wyoming state legislature this past session. The $1.4 million funding boost will also launch cloud seeding operations in Laramie, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre Ranges
Cloud seeding operations have already been conducted in the Medicine Bow/Sierra Madre range in the southern part of the state and the Wind River range in central Wyoming.
“This is just for us to do a one-year study on the Bighorns to see what can be done,” Bruce Boe, Vice President of Meteorology at WMI said. “We’ll ask does it make sense, this isn’t going right to operations. This is let’s do due diligence.”
Cloud seeding was developed in order to combat drought by increasing mountain snow pack. The process consists of emitting a compound called silver iodide into a winter storm system near a mountain range. Once the compound mixes with the water molecules, the reaction causes the snow to form in warmer temperatures. This creates high rates of snowfall in the mountains which, in turn, will create larger snow pack for spring run off.
The most recent operations were conducted in Platte Valley area tucked between the Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre ranges. According to Roy Rasmussen, the senior scientist at NCAR, models on that project projected around a 10 percent increase in precipitation in select storms over six seasons.
The feasibility study for Sheridan is expected to be completed in Sept. 2016.