Weather modification debate heats up in Ward County ahead of June vote

Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 5:00 PM CDT
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If you've been driving around Minot recently, you've probably seen billboards popping up against the Weather Modification program.

The debate over weather mod has been going on for a few years, and now, it's making its way to the Ward County ballot.

Weather modification, or cloud seeding, involves spraying clouds to suppress hail, and prevent crop damage.

Hank Bodmer of the Ward County Modification Authority says there's positive effects from cloud seeding, based on what he's seen from the state Atmospheric Resource Board.

“Weather modification cost in Ward County is a rounding error in the county budget. It's very, very cost-effective,” said Bodmer.

North Dakotans Against Weather Modification Chairman Roger Neshem doesn't see it that way, claiming Ward County being one of five counties in the U.S. conducting convective cloud weather modification.

“Money makes the world go around, and these guys are taking our money and literally they're just blowing it in the sky,” said Neshem.

Bodmer says he sees weather modification in benefits past farming.

“We can't stop all hail, but we can stop a lot of it. If you have a house in town, you have a roof. If it hails on that roof, you have to fix the roof. That's a big cost saving,” said Bodmer.

Neshem says there aren't numbers to convince him of benefits.

There is no scientifically-credible evidence hail can be suppressed or rain can be enhanced in convective cloud seeding. If we're going to start handing out taxpayer money for doing nothing, give me $2 million over the next five years. I'm accomplishing the same here sitting here talking to you as weather modification does when they fly around all summer. Nothing,” said Neshem.

Leaving Ward County residents to decide weather modification's merits for the area.

Weather Modification is set for the Ward County June election ballot.

Remember, this year’s voting in Ward County will be conducted entirely by mail-in.

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