Military jet ‘bombs’ clouds to stimulate them into producing rain during drought

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The Mexican Air Force has been called in to stimulate clouds, or 'bomb' them, in a bid to produce rain during a drought there.

The King Air B-350i aircraft of the Mexican Air Force arrived at a military base in Nuevo León, a state in the northeast region of Mexico, to "bomb" clouds on Tuesday, July 19.

The state has experienced severe drought all summer and the biggest city, Monterrey, has its three main reservoirs at just 43%, 9% and 1% capacity.

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The city, one of the country's richest, is on its knees due to a severe lack of rain and a blistering heatwave. Many are saying the area is suffering the worst water crisis it has seen in decades.

So, depending on the weather, the jet will carry out cloud stimulation flights from yesterday (Tuesday, July 19) to July 31.

During its first flight on Tuesday, authorities indicated that the first bombardment of the plane over the clouds managed to cause precipitation in the area flown over.

On the same day, the Air Force aircraft flew over the La Boca Dam, in Santiago, for about two hours, unloading 100 litres of silver iodide.

This is called cloud seeding, a process of spraying clouds with a mixture of silver iodide and acetone to induce precipitation.

The Mexican Army and Air Force are applying the so-called DN-III-E Plan, an effort to help those most affected by the severe dry spells.

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As well as stimulating the clouds and causing rain, the coalition will use tanker vehicles with pipes to distribute water in the most affected colonies.

One Monterrey resident, Patricia Palacios, hasn’t had running water for nearly 50 days.

The 65-year-old waits for the city water authority tanker that comes to her neighbourhood two to three times a week to fill containers.

“It really is miserable,” said the retired biologist. “I have them all labeled — this one for the bathroom, that one for [another room] — and as soon as they’re filled I take them straight to the part of the house where I’ll use them.

“Monterrey hasn’t seen a drought like this in 30 years,” said Juan Ignacio Barragán, director of the city’s water and drainage department.

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