Drought continued to ease in southwest Indiana in the past week as that area of the state hit hardest by the summer's drought benefited from August rains, an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday (Aug. 23) showed.
Some areas of southwest Indiana that had been in exceptional drought - the highest level of dryness - for several weeks improved to extreme drought, still far from full recovery but improving. There was some slight improvement in central Indiana, which was in less critical levels of dryness, from significant rainfall Indiana has been getting this month.
"Most of the improvement in the drought status this past week was in the southwest," said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist based at Purdue University. "Elsewhere, there's not a lot of change from a week ago.Ó
Scheeringa noted that August rainfall to date in Indiana has averaged near 3.1 inches, 20 percent above normal. Since the start of this year, state average rainfall is about 20.1 inches. Rainfall deficits so far range from 5.8 inches across northern Indiana to 11.5 inches in the far southwest.
The forecast for the remainder of August was for less-than-normal rainfall but above-normal precipitation in the first week of September, Scheeringa said. Temperatures were expected to be above normal through the period.
The uncertainty of the rainfall pattern in the coming months will be compounded by land-falling tropical cyclones and their tracks, said Dev Niyogi, state climatologist.
"Another challenge we have is to try to balance the drought designation based on the rains that will occur versus the longer-term impacts that are already under way," he said.
The Drought Monitor map of Indiana is available at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_state.htm?IN,MW
Weekly GIS maps of Indiana rainfall can be found at http://iclimate.org/precip/images/precip.asp
A compilation of Purdue Extension drought resources is available at http://www.purdue.edu/drought