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Can You Change the Weather with Fireworks?

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Have you ever heard anyone say fireworks cause changes in the weather? If you think back to big events when people use many fireworks, such as New Year’s Eve, do you remember it being rainy the next day?

Many people would argue that indeed,it has rained a lot and that these weather changes aren’t just a coincidence. It’s quite a common perception that fireworks can change the weather, but is there any science to back it up?

Can You Change the Weather with Fireworks?Image Credit: peaceful-jp-scenery via Flickr, under CC by SA 2.0

How Could Fireworks Influence the Weather?

Before you start experimenting with fireworks in your hope to become the controller of the weather, let’s look at the arguments behind the idea.
Fireworks contain quite a bit of chemicals, which are naturally released in the air during the display. During big events like the 4th of July, there can be quite a bit of fireworks shot in the sky, creating a huge release of these chemicals all at once.

Can You Change the Weather with Fireworks?Image Credit: John Morgan via Flickr, under CC by SA 2.0

The main culprit for possible weather changes is sulphur. The smoke that fills the night sky is full of sulphur and dioxins, which have been shown to increase precipitation. In fact, the Chinese used cloud seeding missiles during the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics in 2008. These missiles were filled with chemicals such as dioxin and sulphur – as a result, there was no rain during the opening ceremony, as it came down earlier!

The US army is also looking at different ways of controlling the weather. The chemicals featured in fireworks have been closely looked at and even the rocket mechanism is being developed to see whether it could be useful.

Perhaps Not Quite

Before you rejoice in this new discovery and start setting off hundreds of fireworks to clear the sky for your barbecue party this weekend, you should know two things. These two things will potentially destroy your dreams of changing the weather with fireworks.

First, scientists aren’t shooting massive air missiles on the sky regularly because the iodide used in this process is highly toxic. Larger quantities of it will cause toxic rain and this is naturally not such a good idea. While we’d quite like the idea of changing rain schedule, it’s not necessarily worth getting acid rain poured down on you!

Can You Change the Weather with Fireworks?Image Credit: Defence Images via Flickr, under CC by SA 2.0

Second, fireworks are unfortunately not quite the same as missiles. While some rockets can reach huge heights, fireworks don’t go high enough to cause rain. For the cloud seeding to work efficiently, the condensation nuclei must be introduced right in the middle of the cloud, something even the biggest fireworks can’t do. The concentration of the chemicals is also relatively low compared to the quantities used in these successful experiments.

This doesn’t mean the weather can’t seem a bit different after big fireworks events. The chemicals released in large quantities can cause a bit of smog to appear and you might see very subtle changes in the weather.

But overall, scientists aren’t sold on the idea that fireworks would make it rain. What do you think? Would you like weather-changing fireworks to become a reality?

Can You Change the Weather with Fireworks?
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.

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