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Study aims to determine if seeding clouds works

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The Rocky Mountains, meanwhile, will have it somewhat easier – but they won’t be off the hook entirely.

Because of global warming, precipitation that now falls as snow will instead be rain. Instead of the snow slowly melting, the rains will cause flooding in fall and winter. But there will be more severe spring and summer droughts in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades. All this will play havoc with the West's agriculture, fisheries and hydropower industry, according to a report delivered at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. That system is based on the idea of most water coming in the form of snow and slowly melting.

Where we now have snow in the mountains into April, "at mid-century snow will melt off much earlier than that," said L. Ruby Leung, a staff scientist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.

The same trends, but to a less severe extent, are expected in the Rocky Mountains. Even so, reports the Albuquerque Journal, the research envisions a 30 per cent drop in the average winter snowpack in New Mexico’s northern mountains, which includes Taos and Angel Fire.

Continued drought could empty Powell

VAIL, Colo. — If the drought of the last several years continues, half-empty Powell Reservoir could become empty by 2010, with repercussions as far away as Denver. Study of growth rings in trees indicate that extended droughts have not been all that unusual, notes the Vail Daily.

"People have a hard time realizing what a significant drought we are experiencing region-wide," said water attorney Scott Balcomb of Glenwood Springs. He said Coloradans need to start devising a plan to deal with the eventuality that the reservoir will be drained. "It’s been real dry for three to four years, " he said. "We don’t have any assurances it’s not going to be dry the next three to four."

The leading water attorney for the Vail area, Glenn Porzak, says consequences of continued drought will be far less severe than for cities that divert water from the Colorado River Basin. That includes cities along Colorado’s Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo, as well as cities along Utah’s Wasatch Front, including Salt Lake City and Provo.

As well, a new study by the University of Washington’s Dennis Lettenmaier concludes that runoff in the Colorado River could drop 14 to 18 per cent as a result global warming.

Silverton may become a magnet for students

SILVERTON, Colo. — Imagine being of high-school age in Houston, or even Saudi Arabia, and spending your school year in Silverton. It’s a town so small that each grade has only 14 students, a place so isolated that the nearest movie theatre is about 50 miles of often-icy, often-avalanche-plagued miles away.