Mr. Post Challenged Mother Nature
Rain making still considered possible
Published July 19, 2011 @ 6 a.m.
Current drought conditions are a common topic of conversation across the state of Texas. Locally you may have also heard mention of trying the techniques C. W. Post used one hundred years ago to try to bring rain to this area. As with most of the challenges that Mr. Post encountered while developing his "utopia" in Garza County, he tackled Mother Nature head on.
Accounts of Mr. Post's "drought remedy" tell us that in 1912 and 1913, there were 13 attempts to make rain in Garza County. Some reports considered seven successful while others state the remedy had "limited" success. According to a letter from A. D. Marhoff, Post's engineer in charge of rainmaking, certain atmosphere conditions were necessary. Humidity of 75% was advisable. There should be little or no wind. Mr. Post referred to his experiments to make it rain as "rain battles."
The object of the rain battles was to carry the humidity near the surface to a higher altitude to condense and fall as rain. Mr. Post sent instructions to make a suitable kite that could carry up to two pounds of dynamite with a five-minute fuse. This course of action proved to be very dangerous, so instead the dynamite was placed on rocks and ignited in five-minute intervals - sort of like cannons in battle.
That was 100 years ago. Let's look at "making rain" in 2011. Modern day cloud seeding projects uses specially-equipped aircraft designed to place seeding materials into turrets of growing thunderstorms to induce them to expand and process more atmospheric water. Pilots in the aircraft are directed to clouds believed by meteorologist to be treatable with the seeding agent. Timing and targeting are the two critical factors in successful seeding of young thunderstorms. (www.license.state.tx.us/weather)
In this process, the silver iodide becomes ice and attracts cloud vapor forming a snowflake. When the flake becomes heavy enough it falls through the cloud. As it passes into air that is warmer than freezing, it melts into a rain drop.
Cloud seeding, rain making, weather modification...regardless of what you call it, the process has always been controversial and success is difficult to prove.
My assessment on this subject should in no way be considered scientific, but using Mr. Post's method we would need 75% humidity and no wind. I wonder how long it has been since those conditions existed in Garza County? And, considering the current process using an airplane, flares and silver iodide, clouds, moisture and "young" thunderstorms are required. Once again, we're not seeing a lot of this in Garza County.
However, possibly the biggest question concerning the making of rain to help bring an end to the drought is whether either method would be allowed under the current burn ban.