Can we control the weather?

We have put a man on the moon-incredible! So why haven’t we figured out how to make the Louisiana rain clouds relocate to southern California? If we could control the weather, we could change the world. Is it possible?

We can to some extent seed clouds to make moist air condense and existing clouds spill their bounty, but although clouds and air may seem insubstantial, moving Louisiana’s rain clouds to California would involve a heck of a lot more energy than putting a tiny capsule with people on the moon.

I’m pretty sure we can use weather satellites to create tornadoes and other storms. I once watched a fascinating documentary on this very topic.

Since it’s a bit early for jokes I’m going to add another serious reply. We’ve also changed the weather by building large cities and by changing forests into farmland, but even those large scale changes and the differences they make are almost entirely local. The kind of changes the OP wishes for require altering the flow of absolutely huge parts of Earth’s atmosphere that already have patterns of movement caused by the really big energy source The Sun, and the physical properties of huge structures such as Mountain Ranges and Oceans. Getting the Weather to do something other than what is dictated by those inputs and constraints are absoposilutely beyond us.

So the answer is an emphatic NO!

There are also a number of things we’re doing unintentionally, such as global warming and urban heat islands.

Moving rainclouds from Louisiana to California is just absurd, though. If you want rainclouds in California, it’d be far easier to just make them there.

I’d say global warming wouldn’t be a good strategy for weather control even if that had been the intent. :slight_smile:

Louisiana? Absurd. The energy requirements to reverse the prevailing wind directions are uneconomical, to say the least.

A better solution would be to divert some of the Pacific Northwest weather to further down the coast, but even then you have the issue that Southern California has rain shadows from the mountains. Hard to get clouds to hold their moisture as they pass over mountains.

It’d be easier and cheaper to disassemble L.A. and move it *en masse *to coastal LA (heh) than it would be to create more rain over L.A. and less rain over LA.

At least we know how to do the former.

Clearly you have not heard of the Halliburton Hurricane Machine, which can create massive Hurricanes and then point them directly to a major coastal city thereby creating massive damage and pain.

It has been put away in storage now, but will soon be back (renamed of course) as soon as the next Republican is in the White house.

Moderator Warning

davida03801, I’m sure you are aware that political jabs are not permitted in GQ since you’ve been warned for it several times before. This is another. Don’t do this again or you may find your posting privileges under discussion.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

In the “unintentional” department, add the following:

[ul][li]Aircraft contrails, which influence radiative heat loss. The grounding of planes for three days after 9/11 provided an unusual opportunity to study this.[/li]
[li]Twomey effect: Particulate air pollution acts as condensation nuclei and increases the number of droplets in a cloud. Clouds increase in size and reflectivity, sending solar radiation back into space and causing a cooling effect.[/li]
Albrecht effect: with more condensation nuclei, each droplet in the cloud tends to be smaller. In the end, you get more clouds and less rain.[/ul]

Not really easier. Clouds, especially rain clouds, need a heck of a lot of water. Creating them would require moving huge masses of water up into the sky.

Cloud seeding can create local rainfall but only if there is enough cloud (and therefore water) in the atmosphere already - you can’t create rain out of nothing.

Easier to just pipe the water once it fell. but perhaps there is something we could do with solar mirrors/lenses in orbit one day, blocking sunlight from some places and diverting it to others. Some day far off.

If there’s anything we shouldn’t be able to control, it’s the weather. Could you imagine the military getting hold of the ability to do that?

If you want water in Los Angeles it seems silly to evaporate a bunch of water from the ocean and blow the resulting clouds over to L.A. and then precipitate the water out of the atmosphere.

What’s wrong with desalinating water from the ocean and pumping it where we want by pipeline, and then deliver to the intended uses by regular means?

Seems a heck of a lot more energy efficient if the only point is to get more water in California.

There’s also a big difference between “control” and “influence.” Cloud seeding is an example of trying to influence on a local scale. And a pitifully small effect it is. Control implies a lot more ability to make specific changes occur within fairly tight parameters of space, time, and size of effect.

AGW is certainly a large-scale influence. But it’s not steerable is space, time, or size.

A manned lunar mission was easy compared to your proposal.

Let us suppose you want to relocate a particularly moist parcel of air 100km wide, 100km long, and 5km tall from New Orleans to Los Angeles, a distance of about 3000 km.

Your parcel of air weighs about 60 trillion kilograms. How fast did you want to get it there? Two days? That’s 48 hours, for an average speed of 17.4 meters per second; you need to provide 9 trillion kilojoules of kinetic energy to make this happen. That’s 2.5 billion kW-hrs, the entire electrical output of the Three Gorges Dam for 4.5 days. At 13 cents per kW-hr, your cloud relocation project will incur $325M in energy costs alone - never mind the cost of whatever hypothetical mechanism you had in mind for imparting that energy to the air mass in question.

How often did you want to do this (in other words, how big is Los Angeles’ city budget)?

I’m with Lemur866: on-site desalination is much cheaper.

Background reference material: Cecil discusses how much a rain cloud weighs.

Can a cloud weigh as much as a 747?

TL;DR: Yes. A good-sized rain cloud can be expected to weigh more than a 747. More like 10,000 747’s, in fact.

To some extent it could be argued we already do this. Jared Diamond, among others, points out that militarily weaker groups have been forced into marginally habitable areas – particularly areas of low rainfall – by stronger invaders for thousands of years.

The amount of energy that drives the weather is astronomical, the sun isn’t hot enough to make it rain in Southern California, how could we generate enough? Easier to build an aqueduct from the Columbia just downstream from Hanford, y’all are welcome to all that water.