Evaluation of the Western Kansas Weather Modification Program

Darrel L Eklund, Daljit Singh Jawa, Tina Kae Rajala

Abstract


Weather modification activities began in Western Kansas in 1972 and several cloud seeding operations were conducted from 1972 through 1978. The centerpiece of weather modification activities in Kansas is represented by the Western Kansas Weather Modification Program that has operated from 1975 to the present time under the leadership of the Western Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 1. The primary objective of the Program has been to reduce hail damage, although a significant effort has also been made to increase precipitation. The Program been evaluated on several previous occasions by various entities. However, the previous evaluation methodology and/or results have been viewed as somewhat inconclusive by the Kansas Water Office. The precipitation component as per the recent evaluation by the Kansas Water Office showed that precipitation declined by 0.25 inches in the target area from the pre-cloud seeding time period of 1941 to 1970 to the cloud seeding time period of 1979-1993. This amount of change in rainfall is well within normal precipitation variation and was determined to be of no practical economic significance. In contrast, the Kansas Water Office evaluation of the hail suppression component of the Program was very positive. The was estimated percentage decrease in hail damage to crops in the target area was 27 percent, and resulted in an estimated benefit of approximately $60,000,000 the six county target areas for the 1979-1993 time period or $4,000,000 per year, after the expenses to operate the Program have been deducted. These figures are based on reduced hail damage to crops and do not include any estimate of the savings due to reduction in hail damage to dwellings, personal property, wildlife or other natural resources.

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