Drought is nothing unusual for Wichita Falls. This one has been particularly tough. Now, city officials are considering taking what might be seen as extraordinary measures in the form of cloud seeding.

The cloud seeding process involves releasing the chemical silver iodide into storm clouds in an attempt to condense gaseous H2O and create precipitation. The process has been around for many years and has proven successful in some cases. The city is researching costs, permitting and getting the go-ahead from Sheppard AFB, as they would need to utilize Sheppard's air space.

Wichita Falls has taken other extreme measures in the past to help alleviate drought conditions.

The story goes that, back in the 1960's, Wichita Falls was suffering a serious drought and decided to employ a somewhat questionable technique - a rain dance.

George Watchitaker performs a rain dance in Wichita Falls. Circa 1960 (photo courtesy Hutchinson County Museum)

George Watchitaker, a member of the Comanche tribe, was asked to perform the ceremony. Watchitaker and dozens of onlookers gathered at Southmore Center in Wichita Falls. Local legend has it that Watchitaker performed the ceremony and it did in fact rain. Our own KWFS-AM personality Joe Tom White was present that day. He said, "You actually had to get out an umbrella. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it."

The centuries-old rain ceremonies have long been regarded as an intrgal part of Native American culture.

As described on the website indians.org
"In late August, when it is quite dry, especially in the Southwestern United States, Native American tribes used to do a rain dance. Many Native Americans still perform the ritual today, and it can be seen on several reservations in the United States. Men and women gathered together for a rain dance and wore special headdresses and clothing. The jewels used in the clothing, such as turquoise, had special significance, as well as the patterns on the clothing and the use of goat hair in the headdresses. These special clothes were worn every year for the rain dance, and usually were stored the entire year for this purpose."

So what's your two cents on the matter? Should Wichita Falls go to such extremes as cloud seeding to put a dent in this drought? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.



This image explaining cloud seeding shows the chemical either silver iodide or dry ice being dumped onto the cloud, which then becomes a rain shower. The process shown in the upper-right is what is happening in the cloud and the process of condensation to the introduced chemicals. (via Wikipedia)