According to the concussion theory, aerial explosions disturb atmospheric equilibrium and cause rain. This idea began with Plutarch, a Greek moralist, in 1AD. Plutarch developed this theory after he observed rain after battles.Napoleon, himself, shot cannons into the sky in an attempt to muddy the ground to delay his opponents. Soldiers in the Civil War who fought in water-logged conditions also believed this theory.
In the early 1900s, the theory was popular.In 1910, C.W. Post ordered his cowboys to make 150 kites to carry dynamite into the sky. In the process of launching the kites, however, it began to pour rain and the experiment was scrapped.
During the dust bowl, rain-makers were in especially high demand. Congress appropriated money to test the concussion theory in Texas. Source Dyrenforth ran the tests without results and earned the name “Dry Henceforth.”
Dalhart, Texas paid Thornton three hundred dollars to make rain. Thornton set up four miles out of town and bombed with dynamite for four days, causing neighboring towns to complain. After four days, 1/10th of an inch of snow fell, and it snowed the following day.
But rain-making was not always a safe profession. Wallace E. Howell, using silver iodine crystals, was taken to court and threatened to be shot on sight by Catskill residents who believed he caused rain to destroy their crops.
Self-proclaimed “moisture accelerator” Charles M. Hatfield was hired by San Diego to produce rain. The contract stated he would produce 40 inches of rain for free, but for every inch between 40 and 50 inches, he would be paid $1,000. When San Diego flooded severely in 1916, some believed Hatfield was responsible and Hatfield has to leave town when a lynch mob was threatened. Despite several press councils, Hatfield was never paid. Oddly enough, the flood was caused by only 28.01 inches of rain, yet Hatfield was hired to produce 50 inches.