Thanks for the questions, readers — please keep them coming.
And now, some answers.
Jennifer Catterson wants to know whether Colorado Springs Utilities still takes part in cloud-seeding efforts to combat drought conditions.
The answer, Jennifer, is yes. Utilities is a member of the Front Range Water Council, a group of water providers that joins ski areas in paying for a cloud-seeding program to produce snowfall.
This season Durango-based Western Weather Consultants will fire up 78 generators placed in various spots in the Colorado Rockies. This is nothing like “The Rainmaker” and does not involve Burt Lancaster hiking the Continental Divide in a cowboy hat while pounding a bass drum.
The company’s Larry Hjermstad explained that different sets of generators are used depending on conditions. Then the atmosphere is injected with silver iodide crystals that can attract moisture to produce snow.
The generators power a gadget that is like “a big Bunsen burner on top of a tank,” said Hjermstad, who has contracted with ski areas for 37 years.
In the early part of the snow season Hjermstad works for ski areas, but at the end of December the water providers start paying him, too.
Colorado Springs Utilities’ share of the cost is $9,600. When there is a big snow season, Hjermstad makes less money, because when snowpack levels reach a certain point, he shuts his operation down.
We’re in the second year of low snow; so far it looks like the cloud seeding will continue.