Saturday, August 29, 2015

An increasingly desperate Cuba turns to rainmaking

An increasingly desperate Cuba turns to rainmaking
By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba will begin a two-month cloud-seeding campaign
over the eastern part of the Caribbean island in hopes of easing the
worst drought in more than a century, Communist Party daily Granma said
on Friday.

A Russian Yak-40 aircraft will be ready for action beginning in
September, the paper said, with the goal of increasing precipitation in
areas that feed into the Cauto River, the country's largest and the main
source of water for area reservoirs.

Cloud seeding involves sprinkling chemicals to increase water
condensation and thus rainfall.

"The period from January up to the present has been the driest in terms
of precipitation since 1901," Argelio Fernandez, the director of
infrastructure at Cuba's state-run waterworks, told the Granma.

He said cloud seeding may also begin over central Camaguey province,
cattle country, where herds are suffering from hunger and thirst alike.

With reservoirs at around 35 percent of capacity, and in some provinces
well below 20 percent, Cuban authorities appear increasingly alarmed
with just two months left in the rainy season, which runs from May
through October.

Granma said the drought was forecast to persist through March 2016.

Cuba faces water rationing in major cities and hard choices on where
water should be allocated with winter planting, the tourism season and
sugar milling all beginning in November.

Drought conditions across the Caribbean, caused by the phenomenon known
as El Nino, a warming of Pacific waters that affects wind circulation
patterns, have created similar situations on other islands.

Tropical storm Danny provided some relief, but it dissipated before
reaching Cuba. Tropical storm Erika is forecast to veer North toward the
east coast of Florida and only provide limited rainfall in Cuba.

Earlier this month the civil defense system was placed on alert.

More than a million Cubans are already relying on trucked-in water, as
are tens of thousands of cattle, and the country is increasing imports
of rice and other foods to compensate for damage to agriculture.

The government has not provided a national breakdown of drought damage,
but it said earlier this month that emergency measures were being
implemented at all levels, including stricter rationing of water through
the state-run waterworks.

Communist-run Cuba loses around 50 percent of the water pumped from its
reservoirs to leaks. There is little irrigation of farm land and the
systems that exist are outdated and inefficient.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Source: An increasingly desperate Cuba turns to rainmaking - Yahoo News

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