Residents concerned about planned cloud seeding in northern New Mexico

New Mexico News

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Scientists have a plan to improve the snowpack and ease the drought but it’s proving controversial. The cloud seeding effort is underway in northern New Mexico to bring more snowpack to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The proposal by Western Weather Consultants of Durango filed an application with the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission to start cloud seeding on December 13.


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The commission is working to approve the application and provide the permits. “Their proposal is to do a test cloud seeding effort in the eastern Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico and Taos is a part of that but the proposal extends down almost all the way to Santa Fe,” said Rolf Schmidt-Petersen, the director of the NMISC.

The cloud seeding would be land-based generators that would release silver iodide towards potential clouds to essentially make it rain or snow, a process that’s been done in Colorado for the past 20 years.

NMISC says the benefits could be great for bringing the moisture the state needs. “For very targeted applications, with some work, you can generate situations to produce 10 to 15 percent more snow in another area,” Schmidt-Petersen said.

Now, the commission still needs to hear more information on costs and safety before anything is approved and is requiring a public comment period and meeting so the contractors can hear the public concerns.

Emotions are vastly mixed with one person listing the pro of the cloud seeding program bringing water but was concerned about the impact on the environment and people’s health.

The commission, alongside the weather modification committee, will be hearing in a meeting on Thursday. No date has been set for a final decision. The proposed target area covers Red River, Taos, Angel Fire, Sipapu and Santa Fe ski areas. If they get the license, the cloud seeding will run through March of next year.

The public comment meeting will take place on Monday, November 22, at 10 a.m. To register for the meeting, visit register.gotowebinar.com/register.

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