Venezuela turns to cloud-seeding to battle drought

Nov 29, 2009 By IAN JAMES , Associated Press Writer
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez attend a signing of agreements at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. Behind is a painting of Venezuela's independence hero Simon Bolivar. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

(AP) -- Hugo Chavez says he is starting to "bombard" clouds now that Cuba has provided Venezuela with cloud-seeding help in an effort to produce rain and alleviate the effects of a severe drought.

The Venezuelan president said Saturday night that specialized equipment, sent by Fidel Castro and Cuban President Raul Castro, is starting to be used to from planes.

"We're bombarding clouds," Chavez said during a televised speech. "We have some planes there, and some equipment that Fidel and Raul sent us."

Chavez is trying to squeeze more rain from the clouds as his country heads into its dry season amid a drought that has put reservoirs at their lowest levels in decades. The lack of behind that supply most of Venezuela's electricity is threatening to worsen blackouts that have already become an emerging political liability.

Chavez suggested he wants to witness the cloud-seeding effort, saying: "Any cloud that comes in my way, I'll hurl a lightning bolt at it. Tonight I'm going out to bombard."

Cloud-seeding has been tried in various countries - including China, Australia and parts of the United States - in attempts to draw more moisture from storms, usually by releasing silver iodide particles into clouds. Chavez did not say what method Venezuela is using.

Such efforts to modify the are controversial, and critics question the effectiveness under many circumstances. But cloud-seeding is viewed as an option in some areas.

Dry weather in Venezuela and other parts of South America this year has been blamed on the weather phenomenon over the Pacific Ocean. Parts of Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana and Argentina have also been coping with drought.

"That's occurring not only in Venezuela," Chavez said. "Problems, - it now stops raining for long periods and all of a sudden a downpour comes and there are floods."

Chavez first announced the cloud-seeding plan two weeks ago, saying Cuban specialists had arrived along with equipment that was being mounted on C-130 Hercules transport planes. Chavez said then that the seeding would begin over the Orinoco and Caroni river basins, near the Guri hydroelectric dam, the country's largest.

Water has increasingly become a political issue in Venezuela, with Chavez opponents blaming the government for not planning ahead or building sufficient infrastructure. Widespread water rationing began in Caracas earlier this month.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: NASA sees Typhoon Matmo making second landfall in China

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Removing some cloud seeds of doubt

Feb 02, 2009

A team of researchers at Monash University has released a new analysis of precipitation records from the long-term cloud seeding operation in Tasmania that shows a promising increase in rainfall during periods of seeding.

Venezuela unveils 14-dollar mobile phone

Mar 05, 2009

Venezuela is to start selling in May a mobile phone it is billing as one of the world's cheapest: a 14-dollar handset that includes an MP3 player, radio and camera.

Probing Question: Can humans control the weather?

Apr 16, 2009

Chinese officials claimed they prevented rain on the first day of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by launching rockets into the rain clouds the night before. Emeritus professor of meteorology Charles L. Hosler asserts ...

Scientists Discover Pentagonal Ice

Apr 07, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at the University of Liverpool have discovered a five-sided ice chain structure that could be used to modify future weather patterns.

Study may produce better weather forecasts

Aug 11, 2005

Accurately forecasting rain reportedly will become easier thanks to a study of clouds conducted by the University of Leeds and University College London.

Recommended for you

NASA's HS3 mission spotlight: The HIRAD instrument

8 hours ago

The Hurricane Imaging Radiometer, known as HIRAD, will fly aboard one of two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft during NASA's Hurricane Severe Storm Sentinel or HS3 mission from Wallops beginning August 26 through ...

Fires in the Northern Territories July 2014

21 hours ago

Environment Canada has issued a high health risk warning for Yellowknife and surrounding area because of heavy smoke in the region due to forest fires. In the image taken by the Aqua satellite, the smoke ...

How much magma is hiding beneath our feet?

22 hours ago

Molten rock (or magma) has a strong influence on our planet and its inhabitants, causing destructive volcanic eruptions and generating some of the giant mineral deposits. Our understanding of these phenomena ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

peteone1
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, and their Leftwing Latin American puppets...all communist vermin that like a cancer must be eradicated.