The state has invested about $11 million since 2005 in the project, which seeks to determine whether cloud seeding increases the amount of snowpack in several of the state’s mountain ranges.
Cloud seeding involves injecting silver iodide into clouds. Under the right conditions, the chemical can help water droplets grow and fall to the ground.
Faced with water shortages and drought conditions, governments around the world and in the United States have undertaken cloud seeding in an attempt to wring more rain and snow from the sky. Critics say the technique is not proven and could pose a threat to the environment.
Most of Wyoming’s water supply comes from winter snowfall in the mountains. Supporters of the project say increasing the state’s winter snowpack would provide more water for communities and irrigation and would be cheaper than building new dams and reservoirs.
Thanks to the Legislature, which wrapped up its budget session earlier this month, the project will go on for two more winters and a report is planned in late 2014, Lawrence said.
“It will be a comprehensive report outlining the results of the study,” he said.
With two more winters of gathering data, there will be a strong 95 percent confidence level in the project’s findings, Lawrence said.
“We will be credible, a very credible project,” he said.
Lawrence has said the Wyoming project is unique because it is a research-based project to determine whether cloud seeding works. Data gathered by the project is evaluated by independent scientists.
The data gathered so far this year has been more limited in the past because of weather conditions, which must be right in order for clouds to be seeded, Lawrence said.
“We got lot of good data for this year,” he said. “Obviously we’re always trying to get more cases but you got to have the right conditions.”
An unusually warm spring is the main problem now preventing ideal seeding conditions, he said.