Rainmaker Howell Advises Federal Control of Clouds
Returns to College Job
You can blame any drowned-out football afternoons this season on irresponsible rainmakers who have been overlavish with casting silver iodine into the air. Or maybe you can blame it on natural causes.
University meteorologist Wallace E. Howell '36 agreed that there may be danger in man's attempts to control the weather, but not necessarily. The recent floods in Winnipeg and the Mississippi Valley were mentioned as instances where man's rainmaking attempts may have backfired.
"Regulation is going to be necessary, I think," he added, "and because of the scope the only regulation can be federal."
Howell will be back at his post here doing research on the physics of clouds this fall, although be still holds the most publicized rainmaking job in the country with the City of New York. He'll probably go down to New York several times to check on the current research project in weather control, although not at the $100-a-day salary he was given to send up an airplane to bomb the clouds with "rain needs."
"I'm not sure yet just what portion of the rain is due to out efforts," he said. "The City of New York and the U. S. Weather Bureau are now conducting a joint study to determine whether or not we have succeeded in this area."
They will compare the distribution of rainfall in a certain area in New York on a given occasion of rainmaking attempts with the distribution in all July, August and September thunderstorms over the past 15 years. If there are any systematic differences, the scientists may be fairly sure they have done something significant.
Will the rainmakers be able to prevent storms as well as being them on?
"It would involve seeding the clouds a good deal more heavily than to obtain rainfall, and I doubt whether it will ever be done on a large scale," Howell explained.
Is the New York rain problem under control now?
"Did you say New York or 'New Yorker'?" Howell asked somewhat wryly. "In New York there is no immediate pressure, but the reservoirs will be below normal demand for another four years?