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Alberta Hail Suppression Project 1998 Field Program Final Report Page: 78




Terry W. Krauss



A Program Designed for the

Seeding of Convective Clouds

with Glaciogenic Nuclei to

Mitigate Urban Hail Damage in the

Province of Alberta, Canada


Weather Modification Inc.

3802 - 20th Street North

Fargo, North Dakota

U.S.A. 58102


Alberta Severe Weather Management Society

#600, 708 - 11th Ave. S. W.

Calgary, Alberta

Canada T2R 0E4

November 1998

Executive Summary

This report summarizes the activities and data collected during the 1998 field operations of the Alberta Hail Suppression Project. This was the third year of a five year program conducted by Weather Modification Inc. (WMI) of Fargo, North Dakota for the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society of Calgary, Alberta. The program is funded entirely by private insurance companies in Alberta with the sole intent to mitigate the damage to property by hail storms. The project area extends from High River to Lacombe, with priority given to the major cities of Calgary and Red Deer. The operational period was June 1st to September 15th, 1998.

A total of 96 aircraft flights took place on 36 operational days, during the summer of 1998. A total of 153 storms were seeded during 78 flights on 30 days. There were 17 patrol flights. The amount of silver-iodide dispensed during the 1998 field season consisted of 2023 ejectable or cloud-top flares (40.5 kg AgI), 496 end-burning or cloud-base flares (57.3 kg AgI), and 190 gallons of AgI-acetone solution (13.3 kg AgI). Hail was reported within the project area on 38 days. Walnut size hail was reported on 2 days, golfball size on 4 days and larger than golfball was reported on 1 day (July 8th) within the project area. There were two days (July 5th and July 8th) with severe, damaging hailstorms in the Calgary region. At the time of this report, the property damage is estimated to be approximately $40 million. The 1998 season can best be characterized as one with many thunderstorms in June and the first half of July, with early July having the most severe, high-intensity storms. The second half of the season was very quiet, hot, and dry. There was very little seeding in August and none in September.

The facilities and procedures used in 1998 were the same as in 1996 and 1997. The TITAN (Thunderstorm Identification Tracking Analysis and Nowcasting) radar processing and display software recorded radar volume scans at approximately four minute intervals, and provided radar controllers with a wealth of four-dimensional (x,y,z,t) radar derived storm parameters for improved operations. The radar operated continuously throughout the 107 day period except for a 21 hr period on August 1st, when it was down to replace a PRF filter.

Three specially equipped cloud seeding aircraft were dedicated to the project. Two aircraft were stationed in Calgary and one aircraft in Red Deer. The aircraft and crews provided a 24-hr service, seven days a week throughout the period. The Cheyenne II aircraft in Calgary was unserviceable for one 5 day period during the summer for major servicing and replacing of a damaged propeller. No cloud seeding missions were missed due to equipment problems. There were no changes in personnel during the year and no swapping of equipment was required. Overall, the equipment performed very well throughout the 1998 season with no significant interruptions in radar or aircraft operations.

The most notable change to the operations in 1998 was a change in flare manufacturer. The majority of flares used in 1998 were SAM (Systems of Atmopsheric Weather Modification) manufactured by the CHEMMOD Co. of Skopje, Macedonia. Laboratory tests of the SAM flares at the Cloud Simulation and Aerosol Laboratory, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Co., in April 1998 indicated excellent yield results (8.1 x 1012 IN/g pyro at –6°C), and excellent activation times (90% activated in 2.7 min at –6°C).

Highlights of 1998 were an open house held for the insurance industry on June 18th, and the publication of a story about the project called “Hail Busters: Shooting for the Clouds” by Canadian Geographic in the July-August issue. While, the majority of the communities in central Alberta have welcomed the project, a few farmers east of the project area, in the County of Paintearth, have expressed concern that the project is in some way responsible for the very dry conditions in eastern Alberta. The project had many visitors and all concerns were addressed with meteorological charts and radar information indicating that the effect of cloud seeding appears more likely to increase precipitation amounts and area. There is no evidence to suggest that the seeding is altering the precipitation downwind of the project area. A review of climatological data for the past 3 years indicates that the drier than normal conditions east of the project area is most likely a carry-over effect of the strong El Nino which developed during the winter of 1997-98 in the Pacific Ocean. Overall, the program continues to receive very public response.

This final report for 1998 again consists of two Volumes. Volume I provides a general overview of the program describing the methodology being used, pictures, tables, graphs, and some research studies, as well as references to summarize the operational activities. The companion Volume II provides the detailed documentation of the cloud seeding activities of 1998. Volume II-CDROM contains detailed summaries of the daily operations and data associated with each of the cloud seeding days. These data include meteorological data, aircraft flight tracks, radar summary maps, as well as a representative meteorological upper-air chart for each operational day. All of the project’s radar data, meteorological data, and reports have been recorded onto CD-ROM and magnetic tape for the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society.

The evaluation of the hail suppression project will be based on insurance claim data at the end of the five year program. Preliminary assessments indicate a reduction in urban and agricultural losses after three years. A detailed assessment of the seeding effectiveness is beyond the scope of the present contract of WMI, although some preliminary analyses of the TITAN storm tracking data support, and are consistent with, the physical hypotheses of beneficial competition and the promotion of rain and the reduction of large hail within hail storms. At this time, there are no reasons to change any of the scientific seeding hypotheses, methodologies, or design of the program. The Alberta Hail Suppression Project, in many ways, is a model operational program which promises to establish cloud seeding as a viable technology for reducing the economic impact of severe weather.


WMI wishes to acknowledge the kind support of Don McKay, Jim Renick, Catherine Tagg, and the entire Board of Directors of the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society (ASWMS). Their continued assistance and cooperation is greatly appreciated.

A number of agencies and people deserve recognition and thanks. The cooperation of Larry Ellis, and Brian Wilson of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Nav-Canada facilities at Calgary and Edmonton respectively, are gratefully acknowledged. The excellent cooperation by the ATC played an important role in allowing the project pilots to treat the developing storms in an efficient and timely manner, directly over the city of Calgary as required. The cooperation of Dennis Dudley and Ole Jacobson of Environment Canada in Calgary is also gratefully acknowledged. The cooperation of the staff at the ESSO AVITAT fixed-base aviation facility in Calgary is appreciated. Our thanks go to the Olds-Didsbury Flying Club and Airport Commission for their cooperation and support during the year. Special mention must be given to Glenn Smith, Bob Jackson, Rene Atkinson, Don Morgan, Murray Sissons, Ruf May, Gerry Bakken, Jay Bell, and Paul Gervais at the Olds-Didsbury Airport. The cooperation of these people helped make the project a success and much more enjoyable.

WMI wishes to acknowledge the expert contributions of the staff (shown in Figure 1): Dean Gilbert (radar meteorologist), Harry Ewen (electronics technician), Steven Kozak (weather forecasting meteorologist); the pilots in command (Gavin Lange, Mac McQuarrie, and Dale Propp); the co-pilots (Joe MacDougall, Blake McKeegan, and Aleah Longshore); and the aircraft maintenance engineers (Dale Campbell, Gary Hillman). The staff performed exceptionally well as a team. The support of Cindy Dobbs, Fred Remer, Don LeClair, Hans Ahlness, Larry Coltom, and Dennis Afseth in the Fargo head office is also gratefully acknowledged.

The expertise and contributions of Martin Stanley-Jones and Andrew Stanley-Jones for the radar calibrations and tests, as well as computer and Internet support, is greatly appreciated. The author would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Mike Dixon (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and Farren Hiscutt (Electronic Systems Development, Bethlehem, South Africa) for their continued contributions to the design, installation, and maintenance of the radar, computer software, and equipment used in this study: Rick Stone of the Desert Research Institute in Reno, NV is once again kindly thanked for designing the new silver-iodide acetone solution and for his expertise in improving our seeding agents.

Finally, the author wishes to thank Jim Renick for his cooperation, participation, support, and guidance during the field operations as well as his editorial contributions to this final report.

Figure 1: 1998 staff photo. Back row, left to right: Steven Kozak, Dean Gilbert, Blake McKeegan, Joe MacDougall, Gavin Lange, and Jim Renick (Director). Front row, left to right: Harry Ewen, Dale Propp, Terry Krauss, Mac McQuarrie, and Aleah Longshore. Missing are Gary Hillman and Dale Campbell.


Executive Summary 2

Acknowledgments 4







Hail Suppression Hypothesis 15

Cloud Seeding Methodology 17

Seeding Techniques 17

Seeding Rate 18

Seeding Materials 19







Radar Calibration Checks 27



Daily Briefings 29

Coordinated Universal Time 29

Overview OF OperationS 29

Seeding Amounts 42

Weather forecasting 44

Forecasting Performance 45

Cloud Base Temperature 47

Flight Operations 48

Flight Hours 49

Cloud Seeding Aircraft 51

Cheyenne II Aircraft 51

Cloud Physics Instrumentation On Hail-Stop 1 52

C340 Aircraft 52



Discussion of TITAN Analysis 60


El Niño (Amir Shabbar, 1997) 61

Climate change and El Niño? 65

The antithesis - La Niña 65

El Niño's Affect on the Canadian Pairies 65





A. Organization Chart 72

B. Daily Operations Flight Summary Table 72

C. Aircraft Flight Summary Table 72

D. Forms 72

WMI Seeding Aircraft Flight Log 72

WMI Radar Observer Log 72

E. Specifications for Piper Cheyenne II Aircraft 72

F. Specifications for Cessna C-340 Aircraft 72

G. Ground School Agenda 72

H.Project Personnel and Telephone List 72

A. Organization Chart 73

Volume II - DATA

  1. Daily Listing of Significant Meteorological Variables

  2. Olds-Didsbury Airport Weather Summary Plots

  3. Storm Summaries, Maximum Radar Reflectivity Storm Tracks with Aircraft Flight Tracks, Upper Air Charts for the Following Operational Days:

June 1, 1998

June 6, 1998

June 7, 1998

June 9, 1998

June 10, 1998

June 11, 1998

June 13, 1998

June 18, 1998

June 19, 1998

June 22, 1998

June 23, 1998

June 29, 1998

July 1, 1998

July 2, 1998

July 4, 1998

July 5, 1998

July 6, 1998

July 7, 1998

July 8, 1998

July 9, 1998

July 10, 1998

July 11, 1998

July 12, 1998

July 19, 1998

July 24, 1998

July 27, 1998

July 31, 1998

August 14, 1998

August 15, 1998

August 16, 1998

August 17, 1998

August 21, 1998

August 22, 1998

August 23, 1998

August 24, 1998


Figure 1: 1998 staff photo. Back row, left to right: Steven Kozak, Dean Gilbert, Blake McKeegan, Joe MacDougall, Gavin Lange, and Jim Renick (Director). Front row, left to right: Harry Ewen, Dale Propp, Terry Krauss, Mac McQuarrie, and Aleah Longshore. Missing are Gary Hillman and Dale Campbell. 5

Figure 2: Map of southern Alberta showing the project area, buffer zone, and the approximate area covered by the WMI radar at the Olds-Didsbury airport. Figure courtesy Steve Fick, Canadian Geographic (Shermata, 1998). 14

Figure 3: The conceptual model of hailstone formation and hail suppression processes adapted from Krauss (1981) and ARC (1986). This schematic figure also shows the cloud seeding methodology at cloud-top and cloud-base for a mature hail storm. Figure courtesy Steve Fick, Canadian Geographic (Shermata, 1998). 16

Figure 4: A photo of a cloud seeding plane dropping ejectable flares during a cloud seeding penetration (photo coutesy John Ulan). 18

Figure 5: Pilots Blake McKeegan and Joe MacDougall inspecting the acetone generator on N123KK. 20

Figure 6: Electronics technician Harry Ewen checking a burn-in-place (BIP) flare rack. Each aircraft carries two racks holding 12 flares each. In the picture above, both the 150 gm and 70 gm SAM flare types are shown. 20

Figure 7: CSU test results for WMG (1997), SAM (1998), AI (1990 & 1997 BIP), and the old TB1 (1987) flares. 21

Figure 8: A schematic of the operational elements of the Alberta Hail Suppression Project. 23

Figure 9: Schematic figure showing aircraft cloud seeding block altitudes required for Air Traffic Control (ATC). 24

Figure 10: Meteorologist Dean Gilbert in the radio control room with the TITAN, AIRLINK, and RDAS computer displays. 25

Figure 11: WMI C-band radar at the Olds-Didsbury airport. 26

Figure 12: Aircraft Global Positioning System (GPS) flight tracks, seeding locations, and real-time meteorological information from HS1 via the AIRLINK telemetry system on July 8th, 1998 28

Figure 13: Amount of AgI dispensed per operational day in 1998. 42

Figure 14: Distributions of the daily seeding amounts for 1998, 1997, and 1996. 43

Figure 15: Cumulative distribution of AgI for 1998, 1997 and 1996. 43

Figure 16: Daily Convective Day Category (CDC) Values. 45

Figure 17: Frequency of occurrence of the Convective Day Category (CDC) for 1998. 45

Figure 18: Frequency of occurrence of cloud base temperature. 48

Figure 19: Distribution of take-off and landing times for operational flights. 49

Figure 20: Cumulative distribution of Flight Hours 1998, 1997, and 1996. 50

Figure 21: Aircraft launch response times for the 96 operational flights during 1998. 50

Figure 22: Piper Cheyenne II aircraft (N234K) designated as Hail-Stop 1 and configured to seed with droppable AgI flares and end-burning AgI flares. 51

Figure 23: C340 aircraft (N234PS) designated as Hail-Stop 3 and configured to seed with droppable flares, end-burning flares, and AgI acetone burners. 53

Figure 24: The TITAN radar display showing a zoom view of a storm on July 5th, 1998 and the superimposed tracks of HS1, HS2, and HS3. The present, past, and forecast "future" location and size of the storm are indicated. 54

Figure 25: The reflectivity max_map on July 5th, 1998. 55

Figure 26: The maximum_VIL (vertical integrated liquid) map for July 8th, 1998. 55

Figure 27: A time-height profile of maximum reflectivity for storm cell #577 on August 3, 1997. 56

Figure 28: Maximum radar reflectivity before and after seeding. 57

Figure 29: Height of the reflectivity centroid before and after seeding. 57

Figure 30: Storm top velocity before and after seeding. 58

Figure 31: Storm precipitation area before and after seeding. 58

Figure 32: Storm precipitation flux before and after seeding. 59

Figure 33: Maximum reflectivity as a function of storm top height for seeded and non-seeded storms. 59

Figure 34: Precipitation flux as a function of storm top height for seeded and non-seeded storms. 60

Figure 35: Temperature departures from normal (Summer 1996). Only the Arctic Islands, Yukon, and northern BC were cooler than normal. Alberta was normal. 62

Figure 36: Precipitation departures from normal (Summer 1996). The Arctic is much wetter than normal. Southern Alberta was drier than normal. Central and northern Alberta were generally 20% wetter than normal. 62

Figure 37: Temperature departures from normal (Summer 1997). Only the Arctic Islands and Maritimes were cooler than normal. Alberta was generally warmer. 63

Figure 38: Precipitation departures from normal (Summer 1997). The North and BC were wetter than normal. Southern Alberta was drier than normal, and northern Alberta was wetter than normal. 63

Figure 39: Temperature departures from normal (Summer 1998). The entire country was warmer than normal. 64

Figure 40: Precipitation departures from normal (Summer 1998). The Arctic was wetter than normal, BC and Ontario were drier than normal. Southern Alberta was wetter than normal. Western and northern Alberta were much drier than normal. Central Alberta was normal, except for east-central Alberta which had a small region which was drier than normal. 64

Figure 41: A time series plot of July and August precipitation for Red Deer and Coronation over the period 1950 to 1998 (data missing for 1991-1993). 65

Figure 42: Alberta Agriculture Financial Services Corp. hail insurance loss-to-risk and claims statistics from 1978 to 1998. 67

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