Cloud Seeding Gives Mother Nature A Boost

Rain Clouds Ripe For A Little Help From Science

Cloud Seeding Gives Nature a Boost for Rain

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - We have another shot at rain tonight and another chance to give Mother Nature a boost.

Matt Naftaly, manager of Santa Barbara County's Water Agency, hopes Tuesday's storm system will bring ideal conditions for cloud seeding.

A grove of so-called "flare trees" -- metal, tree-like sculptures -- sits high above Santa Barbara and Goleta off West Camino Cielo. Each cylinder contains a flare-like device that shoots silver iodide into the clouds, which helps create rain.

"The silver iodide acts as a nucleus for the vapor to freeze to," said Naftaly. "Once that process has started, it grows and grows as an ice crystal. Around here, it normally ends up melting as rain."

During Monday night's storm, a county weather expert stationed in Santa Maria used a remote system to shoot off twenty three flares from the grove, aimed toward the Twitchell Reservoir and Cachuma Lake.

Naftaly hopes the same will happen Tuesday night if the conditions are good and cold, and the winds are just right.

A "token flare" was shot off during rains the week before, but Naftaly said the conditions weren't ideal.

Naftaly said cloud seeding can only happen during an active storm and increases rainfall by 18 to 21 percent.

Being that we're now four months into the year, a plane used locally to help seed the clouds from the air is no longer available, for cost reasons.

Cloud seeding, when it happens, will come solely from the flare trees installed along West Camino Cielo.

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