Hatfield the Rainmaker (c.1915)   …   The best remembered facts about Hatfield The Rainmaker are that when he ministered to the sky it rained tor­rents, and when he tried to collect $10,000 from the City of San Diego, the mayor and council welshed.

Rainmaker (Valdy)   …   Everyone sing along, now.



The Hatfield Flood   …   13th and M Streets, San Diego, on January 27, 1916More than was bargained for….

Dispute Resolution Suggested Readings   …   Are YOU prepared to negotiate?



Melbourne, the Rainmaker:  With Generators



Water and the Making of Kansas   …   In 1891, Congress funded rainmaking experiments in Texas. “Rain wizard” frank Melbourne excited Westerners that same year when he “watered” spots in arid Wyoming and Utah.

Goodland, Kansas rushed to secure Melbourne’s services, raising the $500 fee in a matter of days. The rainmaker released his secret chemicals at the Sherman County fair. No moisture fell at Goodland, but central Kansas was drenched. Melbourne blamed the wind, and a Chicago paper pronounced him “a complete success.”

A Goodland businessman announced his purchase of the Melbourne formula the following month. He and other citizens incorporated as the Inter-State Artificial Rain Company.

“You can mark up the price of your land and expect an era of prosperity for the county,” rejoiced the Goodland News.

Two rival corporations soon advertised their plans to milk the Kansas clouds. With rainmaking “reducible to a science,” the Plains could be transformed into “the very garden and granary of the world.”

All three Goodland companies did brisk business in 1892. Mankato, Lincoln, Wakefield and other towns signed the standard “no rain, no pay” contracts as their corn wilted. At Council Grove, the faithful constantly carried huge umbrellas.


Tales Of Rain-Makers, Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1894-95)   …   Drought has always made people desperate, so rain-making was a profitable-if-inexact science in the 1800s. Those contracted to bring rain to an area fired cannons at clouds (the “concussion theory”) or used contraptions of all manner to try to make atmospheric conditions amenable to precipitation. And often they did nothing and hoped for a lucky shower so that they could collect their money.

Rainmaker Melbourne Is Frank” (June 28, 1895): “Cleveland, O.–Frank Melbourne, the erstwhile Western rain king whose services were in urgent demand in the West two or three years ago, is located in this city. In speaking of his experiences as a rain maker, Melbourne admitted that the whole thing was humbug, and that he never possessed any more power in that respect than any other man. He says the American people like to be humbugged, and the greater the fake the easier it is to work it. Melbourne made a fortune in the business and spent it like a prince.”


Science Still Seeks a Rain-Making Machine (Jan, 1931)   …   “I merely assemble rain-bearing clouds over a specified area,” said Dr. Sykes, explaining his intricate rain machine, “and then I turn my engines on them. The earth’s magnetic field fairly eats out of my hand.”

Dr. Sykes soared into a profound discussion on dynurgy, xurgy, psychurgy, freenurgy, chemurgy, themurgy and several other “urgies” not in the dictionary, but since these “urgies” do not promise to become an integral part of science, they might be discarded without injury to either Dr. Sykes or science.

Dr. Sykes’ central apparatus consisted of four dry batteries, an electric heater that had seen better days but which served its purpose still, two old-fashioned radio sets, coils and coils of wire and an abused loop aerial.

Added to this grotesque composition was a vase, which might have been used in the old days as a container for flowers in a steam – driven automobile. Dr. Sykes explained that this was his sun accumulator. Then there was a small airplane propeller attached to some mechanism which he said serves as wind distributor. Homely, improvised apparatus, but Dr. Sykes had an explanation for every molecule of metal there.



Weather Control as a Cold War Weapon   …   May 28, 1954, Collier’s magazine cover.

Five Ways to Trigger a Natural Disaster:  Flooding   …   On June 9, 1972, more than 35 centimetres of water – nearly a year’s worth of rain – fell in six hours over the Black Hills of Western South Dakota. The rainfall caused Rapid Creek to overflow and the Canyon Lake Dam to burst, resulting in huge floods in downstream Rapid City.

More than 200 people died and 3000 were injured. About 1300 houses were destroyed, some simply lifted by the water and carried away. In all, the floods caused over $160 million in damage to the city.

On the day of the storm, scientists had been carrying out cloud-seeding experiments nearby, and were later blamed for the floods.

The principle of cloud seeding is relatively simple. The skies are peppered with a chemical – usually silver iodide – which draws the moisture out of clouds by providing something for water to condense on.

The Rapid City Flood of 1972

Weather Observing


Ghost World (David Kitay)  I enjoyed the original film, and particularly this piece on the soundtrack.  I also enjoyed this fan video, which I thought was a simple and effective approach.


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