Cloud-seeding to increase rainfall on Santa Catalina Island will begin this month, as airplanes sprinkle dry ice into the clouds over the island, Southern California Edison Co. officials said.
The program will begin about Thursday, when the Fresno-based firm Atmospherics Inc. will start monitoring Catalina's weather to determine optimum times for sending up a pilot to induce or increase rainfall, said Keith LeFever, Edison's district manager for the island.
The program is intended to increase the amount of water in the Middle Ranch Reservoir, the island's major water source, which has been significantly lowered after four straight years of less-than-average rainfall and an increase in water use during the last two years, LeFever said.
From 1984 to 1987, rainfall on the island averaged just over 7 inches a year, LeFever said. More important, the island had no rainstorms that lasted more than a day, which would have allowed runoff from the rain to accumulate in the reservoir, he said. Average annual rainfall since 1970 has been about 12 inches.