A Status Report on Liquid Propane Dispenser Testing in Utah with Emphasis on a Fully-Automated Seeding System

Arlin B Super, Erick Faatz


Liquid propane dispensers were tested on the Wasatch Plaleau of central Utah during the winters of 1992-93 and 1993-94. Remote operation of the radio-controlled dispensers proved to be highly reliable, in large part because of the mechanical simplicity of the devices. A prototype fully-automated liquid propane seeding system was tested during early 1994 on the west (windward) slopes of the Plateau. An icing rate device was used to detect supercooled liquid water at the center station of three exposed propane dispenser stations. Wimd speed and direclion and air temperature were also monitored at the center station. When certain predetermined weather criteria were met, the three propane dispensers were automatically turned on. Propane continued to be dispersed until one or more of the weather criteria were out-of-bounds for 2 h. Post-season analysis of recorded data showed that the fully-automated seeding system operated as designed for the most part. Some minor problems were encountered, but can easily be corrected. Recommendations are made for simplifying the automated decision process. A means of detecting supercooled liquid water in the absence of commercial electrical power was also tested during early 1994. It proved to be practical and reliable. Accordingly, the technology exists to operate fully-automated networks of liquid propane dispensers in remote mountain locations. Costs of such networks would not be excessive, and reliability can be expected to be high. However, further physical experimentation is recommended to document the effectiveness of liquid propane seeding for snowfall enhancement because such evidence is quite limited.

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