The Central Transylvanian Maros/Mureș county will shortly deploy almost a dozen a rocket installations in an effort to prevent hail, county prefect Mircea Dușa announced.
The rockets work by delivering a charge of sliver iodide directly into the ice-forming cores of thunderstorms. The iodide works as a precipitating agent in high-altitude storm clouds, where condensed water vapor would usually turn into ice particles, which grow until the updraft can no longer keep them airborne. The iodide – whose crystals are very similar to water crystals – provides additional condensation points, thus the ice particles will be much smaller and with a chance that they will thaw before landing.
The rockets will be deployed around ten settlements with vineyards, orchards and other high-value crops. The total cost of the system – part of a nationwide initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture – will cost RON 36.7 million (EUR 7.8 million), of which RON 29.6 million credit from the central budget and the rest from the county budget. The same system is also used in the states of the former Soviet Union.
Meteorologist Gergely Makkai told news portal Székelyhon that while the system does work, it can have potentially disastrous side effects: if the iodide is not delivered exactly in the part of the cloud where the ice particles are being formed, it can instead cause torrential rain. This is why in many parts of Western Europe they use ground-based silver iodide vaporizers that have the same effect but without the above mentioned hazard.
Title image: Weather control rockets packed with silver iodide.