By Jennifer Stewart-Burton
July 12, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Some level of drought now encompasses all 92 Indiana counties for the first time this year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor update on Thursday (July 12).
Counties in the northeast, southwest and south-central portions of the state are in extreme drought - the second-highest level. Parts of Vanderburgh and Posey in the Evansville area now are experiencing exceptional drought - the most intense level (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu).
The worst affected areas in the southwest are an average of 13 inches below normal in precipitation, while the areas in the northeast are 11-12 inches below normal, according to the Indiana State Climate office, based at Purdue University (http://iclimate.org).
The position of the jet stream just north of Indiana has helped to create a dome of high heat over the state and a high-pressure system that has kept away moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, said Austin Pearson, student research assistant in the climate office.
A very slight shift in the jet stream this week could bring rain to Indiana in coming days.
"We will see rain this weekend," Pearson said. "We're just waiting on the Gulf moisture to eject into the Indiana area. We could see some decent rainfall, but as of right now, this does not look like a drought-buster."
Storms with heavier rainfall are likely in the southern part of Indiana.
"My concern is that some areas could get too much rain at once and we would see a lot of it run off," Pearson said.
He said it would take much more than just a few storms to bring the state out of the drought, which has hindered development of crops and lowered waterways.
"In order to bring us out of this drought, we're really going to need several sufficient rainfalls over a long period of time," Pearson said. "We don't want everything to come at once because that will wash everything away, and it's mainly going to be runoff - not a lot will be stored in the ground.
"We could probably use a tropical depression or a tropical storm that will go through the Texas area and then come back up to the Midwest. We're just going to need to see a big pattern break if we're going to see any major rainfall."
Purdue Extension has compiled farmer, homeowner and consumer drought resources at http://purdue.edu/drought.