Officials in Puerto Rico have been looking for ways to lessen the effects of a severe drought that has stressed water resources in the country and much of the Caribbean. The importance of cloud seeding in this region rests in its potential hydrological contributions and positive impacts on water resource management. SOAR has been contracted to conduct an airborne cloud seeding program in an attempt to increase precipitation. This project is the first of its kind on the island, as it implements the most modern techniques available to augment rainfall if and when clouds are deemed suitable. SOAR’s target area in Puerto Rico is over the Carraízo, La Plata and Cidra reservoirs and their respective watersheds. SOAR has meteorologists on staff, constantly collecting and monitoring meteorological data, and analyzing clouds and their potential for a positive response to seeding. A specially equipped aircraft is stationed on the island for the conduct of seeding operations.
An estimated 2.8 million citizens in Puerto Rico are living under extreme or severe drought conditions, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. El Niño is one of the causes of the dry weather. Along with El Niño, an abnormal amount of Sahara dust and dry air over the southern Atlantic is a factor. The combination of strong, westerly winds aloft (stirred by El Niño) and dry, stable air persistent over the southern Atlantic has led to no significant rainfall over the Caribbean. The cloud seeding operations seek to enhance rainfall processes from individual clouds that traverse the target area.