Cloud seeding helps extract more water from rounds of winter storms in Southern Nevada

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 11:55 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The tremendous rainfall this winter has had an impact on Nevada’s drought. This time two years ago, Southern Nevada was in an exceptional drought, the worst possible category.

Now, all of Clark County is either in a severe or moderate drought marking a significant improvement. Up at Lee Canyon, they are approaching a snowpack record. The all-time record is 255 inches. Right now, they are at 237 inches with 10 to 20 more inches expected with Tuesday’s storm.

Last fall, FOX5 told you about cloud seeding machines being added to our local mountains.

Last year, conservation group Save Red Rock raised tens of thousands of dollars to buy and install cloud seeding machines. They are generators that sit on top of the mountains with cannons that shoot silver iodide, dust that will form ice, into passing clouds.

“We have two cloud seeders over the Spring Mountain Range. One is on Lovell Canyon and that is mainly going to hit Mt. Charleston and Lee Canyon and then we have a second one on Mt. Potosi and that is mainly to hit Red Rock Canyon,” Pauline van Betten, Land and Water Advisor for Save Red Rock shared. After 20 years of drought, last year van Betten told FOX5 how Red Rock Canyon was suffering especially the plants and animals. Now things are much different at Red Rock, flooding was reported there just last week.

“There’s water in the creeks and the Joshua Trees have really come back,” van Betten stated. Save Red Rock couldn’t be happier with the results of the first winter of cloud seeding.

“It has just been fantastic. We’ve been seeding throughout the whole winter. All of these storms have been seeded... The cloud seeders have generated 6,000-acre feet of water... so that’s 18,000 homes of water for a year,” van Betten said. However, the water crisis in Southern Nevada is far from over and the cloud seeding will continue.

“We don’t know what the next years will bring,” van Betten explained.

This legislative session, Senate Bill 99 would authorize $1.2 million for a state cloud seeding program over the next two years.

The federal government announced it is also investing in cloud seeding to the tune of $2.4 million. On Thursday, the Southern Nevada Water Authority voted to accept a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation to fund cloud seeding in other western states whose rivers flow into Lake Mead.