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Charles Mallory Hatfield “The Moisture Accelerator” Makes Rain For L.A., Floods San Diego

The indisputable fact is that Hatfield went into the hills nineteen times to bring on a rain, and nineteen times it rained when he promised. Last December a reward of $1000 was offered him, half as a joke, on condition that he make it rain eighteen inches in Southern California between December 15 and May 1. He has collected that reward. - Dawson Daily News 1905 [1]

For the benefit of other promoter who may wish to capitalize the rainfall, let us note that Mr. Charles Hatfield, a professional rainmaker of Altadena, Cal., received $1000 from the merchants of Los Angeles in return for a precipitation of 18.96 inches in three months. - Boston Evening Transcript 1905 [2]

In his free time, Charles Mallory Hatfield read about pluviculture and began to develop his own methods for producing rain. By 1902 he had created a secret mixture of 23 chemicals in large galvanized evaporating tanks that, he claimed, attracted rain. Hatfield called himself a moisture accelerator. [3]

The city of San Diego, suffering badly from drought, made a deal with Hatfield to make it rain. He agreed, and made it rain so hard there was flash flood, causing millions of dollars in damages. As a result, Hatfield was not paid, as this would imply fault on the part of the city. Ironically, this story is a microcosm of the weather modification industry. They want to be able to change the weather, but if the weather turns sour, they don’t want to have to pay for the damages.

Charles Hatfield and the 1916 flooding at Lake Morena is the subject of the song Hatfield, a fan favorite of the southern jam band, Widespread Panic. Singer/guitarist John Bell wrote the song after reading the story of the rainmaker in a Farmers’ Almanac.

Charles Hatfield (on the ladder) and his younger brother with one of their rain towers, in Coalinga, Calif. (IMAGE BELOW, Credit Los Angeles Times) The pair built a similar 20-foot tower in the woods east of San Diego and began what one city official would later call “an incantation aimed at wringing moisture from the air.” What followed was a destructive downpour. [4]

Media Gallery


"With the Rainmaker, How Hatfield Flooded California." Dawson Daily News, 1905
"Jottings." Boston Evening Transcript, 1905
Charles Hatfield, Wikipedia
Perry, Tony. "With San Diego again drought-ridden, 1915 Rainmaker saga is revisited." Los Angeles Times, 2015
"Jan 12, 1958: Rainmaker Charles Hatfield died in #EagleRock. In 1904, LA paid him for 18" of rain." @LAhistory on Twitter, 2017
Harrison, Scott. "Rainmaker Charles Hatfield." Los Angeles Times, Framework, 2015
Kanuckel, Amber. "A Man Who Could Make It Rain? The Strange Story of Charles Hatfield." Farmers’ Almanac •
"Did San Diego Hire a ‘Rainmaker’ to End a Drought in 1916?"

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Jim Lee, ClimateViewer News
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