Drought monitor, rain outlook a mixed bag for Indiana

August 2, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Drought conditions continued to worsen in parts of Indiana during the last week, but improved slightly in others - a pattern likely to continue into the next week, says a Purdue University climatologist.

A return to more normal rainfall with better area coverage in the region of the state generally northeast of a line from Gary to Richmond contributed to slight improvements. Yet the same storm systems consistently missed west-central Indiana, which is the area now showing the greatest declines.

 "The big story here is that significant precipitation has missed west-central Indiana over and over again," said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist for the Indiana State Climate Office, based at Purdue. "This is the area of the state worsening the fastest."

In the Thursday (Aug. 2) Drought Monitor update, the U.S. Department of Agriculture again extended a swath of exceptional drought - the most intense drought rating available - further into west-central Indiana. The drought monitor can be found at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu. The Indiana State Climate office provides weekly advice to Drought Monitor authors about local changes to the map.

A long-term ridge of high pressure has caused storm systems to travel in a circular pattern that enters the northwest corner of the state, then extends southeast to the eastern border with Ohio before exiting to the southeast.

"This northeastern portion of Indiana  is very slowly improving because of a return to more frequent rainfall," Scheeringa said.

The normal Indiana rainfall total for July would be 1 inch per week.

Scheeringa said  normal rainfall amounts likely would continue for parts of the state in the coming week, but storm systems might still miss the driest areas. All of Indiana is expected to remain hot.

 Precipitation could slow once again the following week, he said.

"For the next week to 10 days we should see normal rainfall - just enough to keep our drought conditions steady - except in west-central Indiana," Scheeringa said. "But, after that, our chances of rain do not look as good.

"So there's some good news in the short term, but then it's back to status quo."

A compilation of free Purdue Extension drought resources is available at http://www.purdue.edu/drought

Writer: Jennifer Stewart, 765-494-6682, jsstewar@purdue.edu

Source: Ken Scheeringa, 765-494-8105, kens@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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