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 the 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 snow pack also benefits irrigators, winter recreationists, wildlife and river users.
We first began cloud seeding in 1995, but the science of cloud seeding has been around for nearly 70 years. After researching the cost and benefits, we began ongoing operations in 2003.
Since then our studies recorded an additional 124,000 acre-feet from the upper Snake River and 224,000 acre-feet from the Payette River, from our cloud seeding efforts. That translates into enough additional hydroelectric production to power more than 11,000 homes for a year.
A key long-term water management strategy, cloud seeding has enabled Idaho Power to increase snow pack in the targeted area between five and 28 percent annually.
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 to start the formation of water droplets that fall to the ground as snow.
Silver iodide has been used for cloud seeding in numerous 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 15.
For more information about cloud seeding, check out our Frequently Asked Questions or contact: