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Parched By Drought, California Turns To Science, Pilots To Create Much-Needed Rainfall

LOS ANGELES ( — California's current drought — the result of one of the driest California winters in recent memory — has driven scientists to attempt to make their own much-needed rain fall from the sky.

Pilots at Weather Modification Incorporated are using a new technology, involving airplanes and clouds, in the hopes of increasing rainfall and restoring the state's water supply.

In a process known as "seeding", a pilot will circle a cloud until temperatures drop to a certain degree, at which point silver iodide is released out of the airplane's flares.

"All that super-cooled liquid water that's hanging there below freezing, it doesn't have anything to freeze to, and it just needs a particle," pilot Jake Mitchem said.

This "super-cooled" water in the cloud attaches itself to the silver iodide, creating more snow, which should eventually fall to the ground below.

Companies involved in cloud seeding suggest the process can potentially increase the production of snow by five to fifteen percent.

Focusing on the Sierra Mountains, the seeding is meant to help increase snowfall, with the eventual goal of felling the reservoirs below with more water. The hope is that some of that Sierra water will flow down to Southern California.

Cloud-seeding pilots are hired by states, counties and utility companies to use the process over areas where snowfall is desired, which eventually leads to water to help boost their hydro-electric operations.

"As a result, they are able to produce electricity at a lower cost, because of the extra water we are producing for them," pilot Reece Rich said. "And the added benefit eventually (goes) to farmers and citizens."

Days after California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state drought emergency, the necessity for rain in California has seldom been so great, and where nature's delivery of moisture has been absent, the state will turn to science to quench its thirst.

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