There has been a lot of areas recently reporting big booms. What is all this noise about? Could these loud noises be preventing hail?

In the Nextdoor.com discussion for my neighborhood recently, people were discussing the loud booms that are frequently heard near apple orchards. Come to find out, these loud "booms" are coming from what are called "hail cannons".

For a farmer who is trying to grow fruit, the last thing you want is hail falling from the sky and hitting the fruit. This would damage and scar the outside of the fruit, making it less appealing and worth less money -- if it didn't completely destroy the fruit.

According to one person in that was involved in the discussion of these "hail cannons", there are two types of these things.

One device is a tower that disrupts the formation of hailstones by creating shockwaves. A charge of acetylene gas is sent through the tower to accomplish this.

The second type of cannon shoots silver iodide into the air. It is a form of "cloud-seeding". The chemical then lowers the temperature and creates ice crystals or slush, rather than hail.

According to an article on Wikipedia, "There is no evidence in favor of the effectiveness of these devices." They example they used was that thunder is usually found in the same hail producing storms, however that powerful sonic wave doesn't seem to disturb the formation of hailstones.

So whether it works or not, you just might hear a few loud "booms" from time to time if you live near a fruit farmer.

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