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Cloud seeding brings 10-15 percent more rain to Los Angeles

Cloud seeding is a process that helps to yield more moisture from the sky during storms.
File photo by Neil Kremer via Flickr Creative Commons
Cloud seeding is a process that helps to yield more moisture from the sky during storms.

While California's 2016 El Niño season has been drier than expected, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is working to get extra moisture from recent storms through a process called "cloud seeding. "

What in the world is cloud seeding? It's a process where chemicals are sent into the clouds either by plane, generators on the ground or rockets that then make clouds release their moisture as rain.

Watch this video from the BBC to see how it works:

Cloud seeding video

The storm system that started Sunday night and continued into a thundery Monday morningyielded about 1,400 acre feet of water — enough to provide water to nearly 36,000 families for a year, according to Public Works spokesman Bob Spencer. 

"Cloud seeding enables us on an average to pull 10 to 15 percent more moisture out of the clouds, which is obviously very important to us right now. Every drop of rain we can get is important," Spencer told KPCC.

He also noted that it would be nearly impossible to parse out the amount of water that was collected solely from the cloud seeding process.

"We're looking forward to the storms potentially headed our way on Friday," Spencer said. 

Cloud seeding has been used in more than 50 countries around the world, though it was once considered to be fringe science. Spencer said that the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has encouraged the Public Works department to undertake cloud-seeding endeavors.

Looking ahead to the future, Spencer said that the Public Works department hopes for cloud seeding operations to continue past the end of the storm season, which officially ends April 15.

This story has been updated.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated which agency was contracting the cloud seeding; it is actually the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. KPCC regrets the error.