Monsoon Updates

Anti-hail guns to mitigate hailstorms crop damage


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hailstorms

Mains level: NA

To help out horticulturists who face crop damage due to hailstorms, the Himachal Pradesh government will be testing the use of indigenously developed ‘anti-hail guns’.

What are anti-hail guns?

  • An anti-hail gun is a machine that generates shock waves to disrupt the growth of hailstones in clouds, according to its makers.
  • It comprises a tall, fixed structure somewhat resembling an inverted tower, several metres high, with a long and narrow cone opening towards the sky.
  • The gun is “fired” by feeding an explosive mixture of acetylene gas and air into its lower chamber, which releases a shock wave (waves that travel faster than the speed of sound, such as those produced by supersonic aircraft).
  • These shock waves supposedly stop water droplets in clouds from turning into hailstones, so that they fall simply as raindrops.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.During a thunderstorm, the thunder in the skies is produced by the

  1. meeting of cumulonimbus clouds in the sky
  2. lightning that separates the nimbus clouds
  3. violent upward movement of air and water particles

Select the correct option using the codes given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) None of the above

How do they ‘prevent’ a hailstorm?

  • It is this hail formation process that the shock waves from anti-hail guns try to disrupt in a radius of 500 meters, so that the water droplets fall down before they can be lifted by the updrafts.
  • The machine is repeatedly fired every few seconds during an approaching thunderstorm.
  • However, the effectiveness of anti-hail guns has remained a contentious issue.

How do Hailstorms occur?

  • Hail is produced by cumulonimbus clouds, which are generally large and dark and may cause thunder and lightning.
  • In such clouds, winds can blow up the water droplets to heights where they freeze into ice.
  • The frozen droplets begin to fall but are soon pushed back up by the winds and more droplets freeze onto them, resulting in multiple layers of ice on the hailstones.
  • This fall and rise is repeated several times, till the hailstones become too heavy and fall down.

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