Most pilots fly away from stormy weather, but Jake Mitchem flies directly toward it.
“Which is kinda nice for us, because no one is there,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about anybody.”
It’s just Jake and the clouds up there, and his main goal is to try and make more snow.
He and other pilots at Weather Modification, Inc. in Sacramento will fly into the clouds and do what is known as seeding.
Jake will circle the cloud and when temperatures are cold enough, he’ll release the silver iodide out of flares. Supercooled water in the cloud sticks to the silver iodide and helps more snow grow and eventually fall to the ground.
Cloud seeding can increase snow production by 5 to 15 percent.
That’s why companies like the Sacramento Municipal Utility District hire pilots to seed clouds over areas where they want snow and eventually water to help with their hydroelectric operations.
As a result, they are able to produce electricity at a lower cost, because of the extra water are producing them. Those benefits are shared by farmers and people in the valley.