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Clarke County Rain Making Association

A group of Osceola and Clarke County citizens decided that the people of Clarke County should take matters into their own hands and do something about the acute water shortage instead of bemoaning the fact that no appreciable amount of precipitation had fallen here since June of the precious year.

The group began collecting funds to do some cloud seeding in an effort to bring rainfall here. Bill and Dick Touet were temporarily elected as chairmen because they were familiar with the seeding program used here in August of 1954. The cloud seeding then was termed a successful venture and was credited with “if not causing at least increasing a ‘million’ dollar rain.”

In 1954 the rain making resulted in 1.55 inches of rain. The only drawback being the association planning the rain making venture had no funds. The Chamber of Commerce two years prior sponsored a rain making venture and though the result was a ‘million dollar rain’ only slightly more that $100 was collected toward the $500 needed by the Association.

A spokesman for the association said they were certain Clarke County could get rain by seeding the clouds. They made three trips and seeded and got rain each time. Pilots Vernon Fish, Dick Bell and Dick Touet who took part in the seeding said they were certain the seeding caused the rain. Plans for seeding called for using dry ice as was used in the successful venture in 1954. The group would seed any low clouds in local planes but if clouds were high they would have to call Des Moines to get a plane that could climb to 22,000 feet. The cost of the dry ice was slight but the cost of chartering the planes was fairly high.

One local farmer said he would give 10 cents an acre to get the fund started and imagined a lot of other farmers would also. Another member said he wouldn’t want to ask every farmer to give that much.

The group said it felt that $100 would be needed for each trip. However if they collected at least $1,000 they would have the money on hand at any t time water is needed and a likely cloud is in the vicinity. Some trips had to be called back because clouds disappeared and other causes.

In 1954 $500 in contributions was asked but only about $100 was collected, leaving the Chamber of Commerce and local pilot-businessman holding the bag for the other money spend in producing the ‘million dollar’ downfall. A few weeks later the Clarke County Rain Making Association failed in their first attempt to produce an abundance of rainfall when a Des Moines plane firm failed to send a plane due to scheduling. The association tried to use a local plane but that failed due to the temperature at 8,000-12,000 feet.

Attempts by pilots Elwayn McPherson and Walt Langfitt with bill and Dick Touet as cloud observers made early morning passes at clouds but clouds condensed and little rain fell. It was concluded the clouds weren’t the right kind and local planes couldn’t go high enough to reach the ‘good’ seeding clouds.

An association member said they needed enough money to purchase a used Army plane equipped with instruments and enough money in the bank they could go up anytime conditions were right, they then wouldn’t have to worry about rainfall in the future.

—1956—

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