Fooling Mother Nature Requires a Texas License

By Maria Folkerth
July 27, 2016
Maria Folkerth was a summer intern at Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP.

wxmodSection 301.11 of the Texas Agricultural Code provides that a person must have a license and fill out an application for a permit to modify the weather. Cloud seeding is the most common form of weather modification in the state of Texas.

Cloud seeding is the use of silver iodide or dry ice to create larger clouds that produce more rain[1]. The reason Texans use cloud seeding is to make a good source of water for crops, especially in a drought or throughout dry seasons. Silver iodide copies the ice nuclei that allow water droplets to form. Cloud seeding uses aircraft as well as artillery guns. Aircraft are the most direct and efficient way to seed clouds. Using artillery guns is effective as well; however, that approach does not directly hit the clouds and takes longer to seed.

Cloud seeding is widespread in South and West Texas[2]. The cloud seeding season is from early spring to early fall.

People have tried to use cloud seeding in one other way: hail prevention. Hail is a form of weather that can completely obliterate crops. Farmers in Hale County and Lamb County believed that cloud seeding could also reduce the number of hailstorms. Instead of releasing small amounts of silver iodide into the clouds, they experimentally released larger amounts into clouds before large hail stones were formed. Unfortunately the experiments not only reduced the hail, but also reduced the amount of rain[3].

According to studies conducted, cloud seeding is not harmful to the environment or humans[4]. The main reason for this is that the amount of silver iodide used for cloud seeding is significantly below the 50 micrograms that is allowed per liter of water[5].

There is no discernible difference between normal non-seeded rain and seeded rain.