Weather Control

September 5, 1980

Report Outline
Current State of the Art
Growth of Weather Modification
International Considerations
Special Focus

Current State of the Art

Mixed Record of Successes and Failures

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” That statement may have been true in 1897 when Charles Dudley Warner wrote it, but meteorologists and other scientists have been doing something about the weather for decades. Weather modification, the intentional altering of atmospheric conditions to suit the purposes of humankind, has five basic forms: (1) fog dissipation, (2) rain and snow enhancement, (3) hail suppression, (4) lightning suppression and (5) the abatement of severe storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

The dissipation of fog and the “seeding” of clouds to produce rain are the most successful weather modification techniques. Both are used extensively and with varying degrees of success in the United States and around the world. Cloud seeding, though, is not effective in easing the harshness of a drought, such as the one that hit the Southwest, Midwest and Great Plains this summer. The main reason is storm clouds tend to be absent during droughts. “Weather modification is not done for the purpose of stopping a drought,” said Dick Wentz, a North Dakota farmer who is a member of that state's Weather Modification Board. “It enhances what [precipitation] is already coming…. Of course, the first thing you need is a cloud.”

Significant controversy exists about weather modification technology. Some persons, mostly those involved in the commercial aspects of weather modification, argue that existing technology — especially cloud seeding — is capable of making significant changes in the weather. They say that the federal government and private companies should renew and intensify their weather modification efforts. Others, mostly atmospheric scientists, say that the claims of weather modification successes are greatly exaggerated and that much more research must be completed on all types of weather modification before full-scale programs should start.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Weather Forecasting
Sep. 09, 2011  Extreme Weather
Jun. 15, 1990  Progress in Weather Forecasting
Sep. 05, 1980  Weather Control
Feb. 02, 1979  Weather Forecasting
Jul. 12, 1974  World Weather Trends
Apr. 13, 1960  Weather Forecasting and Control
Oct. 19, 1953  Weather Modification
Atmospheric Sciences