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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to join airborne scientists seeking rain

November 15, 2009 | 12:50 pm

Venezuela's efforts to combat severe drought conditions may include President Hugo Chavez going airborne with scientists as they try to generate rain from clouds.

Chavez has said a team of Cuban scientists are in Venezuela to fly aircraft with special equipment designed to influence weather patterns, specifically to bring on much-needed precipitation.

“I’m going in a plane; any cloud that crosses me, I’ll zap it so that it rains,” Chavez said late Saturday, according to Reuters.

Though Chavez did not explain what method would be tried in Venezuela, many countries have attempted to influence weather through what is often referred to as cloud seeding. The practice involves shooting substances into clouds, such as silver iodide, salts and dry ice, that bring on the formation of large raindrops, triggering a downpour. 

Meteorologists in China actually used similar "weather modification" techniques to try to prevent rain during the 2008 Summer Olympics by reducing the size of raindrops and delaying any rainfall.

The drought in Venezuela has resulted in water rationing and government calls for residents to do whatever they can to save water, including taking shorter showers.

-- Efrain Hernandez Jr.

Photo: Venezuelan President Chavez greets supporters at a recent protest in Caracas against installation of U.S. military bases in Colombia.  Credit: Reuters