November 30, 2009

Venezuela Battles Drought With Cloud Seeding

In an effort to alleviate the effects of a severe drought, Cuba had provided Venezuela with cloud seeding help.

Hugo Chavez said Fidel Castro and Cuban president Raul Castro sent specialized equipment to the people of Venezuela to be used to seed clouds from planes.

Chavez says, "We're bombarding clouds. We have some planes there, and some equipment that Fidel and Raul sent us."

As his country heads into its dry season, Chavez is trying to squeeze more rain from the clouds. Reservoirs are at their lowest levels in decades and the lack of water behind hydroelectric dams is threatening to worsen blackouts.

Chavez said, "Any cloud that comes in my way, I'll hurl a lightning bolt at it. Tonight I'm going out to bombard."

He suggested he wants to witness the cloud-seeding effort.

Cloud-seeding has been tried in various countries "” including China, Australia and parts of the United States "” in attempts to draw more moisture from storms, usually by releasing silver iodide particles into clouds.

Chavez did not say what method Venezuela is using.

Critics question the effectiveness of cloud-seeding but it is still viewed as an option in some areas.

El Nino is to blame for the dry weather in Venezuela and other parts of South America. Parts of Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana and Argentina have also been coping with drought.

Chavez says, "That's occurring not only in Venezuela. Problems, climate change "” it now stops raining for long periods and all of a sudden a downpour comes and there are floods."

The cloud-seeding plan was announced two weeks ago and it would begin over the Orinoco and Caroni river basins, near the country's largest hydro electronic dam.

Water has increasingly become a political issue in Venezuela, with Chavez opponents blaming the government for not planning ahead or building sufficient infrastructure. Widespread water rationing began in Caracas earlier this month.


Image Caption: Panorama of the Orinoco River. Courtesy Wikipedia