Idaho Power meteorologists monitor winter storms as they pass across the central Idaho mountains, looking for opportunities to increase the amount of snow that falls in drainages that feed the Snake River.
The goal of our cloud-seeding program is to provide additional water for Idaho Power’s hydroelectric projects, which provide clean, low-cost power for our customers. Increased snowpack also benefits irrigators, winter recreationists, fish and wildlife and river users.
The original program began in 2003 to increase snow accumulation in the south and middle forks of the Payette River watershed. In 2008, Idaho Power expanded its cloud-seeding efforts by enhancing a program operated by a group of counties and other stakeholders in the upper Snake River system above Milner Dam.
Idaho Power operates remote-controlled, ground-based generators and aircraft to target the Payette, Boise and Wood river basins as well as the upper Snake River system.
Analyses conducted by Idaho Power since 2003 indicate the annual snowpack in the Payette River Basin increased an average of approximately 12 percent. Idaho Power estimates its current cloud seeding program can provide, on average, 850,000 acre-feet of additional water to watersheds that feed the Snake River.
When weather conditions are right, silver iodide is released into passing storm clouds by generators on mountain tops or by using flares mounted on modified airplanes. The silver iodide particles help start the formation of water droplets that fall to the ground as snow.
Silver iodide has been used for cloud seeding in many western states for decades, and there are no known harmful effects to the environment. The typical cloud seeding season runs from Nov. 1 through April 30.
For additional details, see our Frequently Asked Questions.
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