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'Cloud Seeding' Helps Bring More Rain From Friday's Storm

PASADENA ( — The Los Angeles Department of Public Works is giving mother nature a helping hand by trying to squeeze as much rain as possible from Friday's storm.

The process is called "cloud seeding" with "automated high output generators" or AHOGS.  The generators are made with metal tubes mounted on posts to shoot microscopic silver iodide particles into the clouds from hilltops. Water vapor attaches to those particles, which freeze and drop to the ground as rain.

"Imagine it like igniting a traffic flare that is slow-burning. And then the particles head skyward, almost like incense," said Steven Frasher of the L.A. County Department of Public Works.

The technique can produce 10 percent to 15 percent more rain. And engineers are able to aim the particles so rain will fall on sparsely populated areas and near catch basins, he said.

The county had conducted cloud seeding previously but stopped because of concerns that too much rain would destabilize hillsides scorched by wildfires. But the practice is back due to the historic drought.

A hill above Pasadena is one of 10 sites in Los Angeles County where the cloud-seeding generators are placed.

The generators are controlled by a crew in Utah in a mission-control type of setting. Engineers are able to watch exactly what is happening with the cameras mounted on the generators.

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