Chesterton Tribune

More than half Indiana ruled in extreme drought

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — More than half of Indiana is now listed in extreme drought in a swath of the state’s midsection that goes its entire length.

The new U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday says almost 54 percent of Indiana is in extreme drought, a situation that experts say will take weeks of regular rainfall to relieve.

The new report nearly doubles from last week the percentage of the state listed in extreme drought.

The report labels more than 99 percent of the state as being in at least moderate drought. The only exception is a small area just north of Louisville, Ky. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a natural disaster for 80 of Indiana’s 92 counties because of the drough"s damage to crops.

Storm ends 47-day Indianapolis dry spell

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — One of the longest dry spells in Indianapolis history has ended.

The National Weather Service says a storm passing over Indianapolis International Airport dumped at least 0.24 inches of rainfall Wednesday afternoon, ending the driest start to July ever in the capital and one of the longest dry spells on record.

The weather service says total rainfall at the airport for the 47-day period from June 1-July 17 was just 0.09 inches. The previous record for 0.09 inches over 45 days occurred Aug. 13-Sept. 26, 1908. No measurable rainfall fell this month through July 17, eclipsing July 1901 by one day.

Power companies report storms caused power outages to more than 8,000 customers across Indiana at times Wednesday.

State expands list of drought counties

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana officials urged residents Wednesday to prepare for a long battle with a devastating drought that could last into October.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security Executive Director Joe Wainscott said people need to conserve as much water as they can in the face of the drought.

“This may be a marathon instead of a sprint,” Wainscott said Wednesday at a news conference with state public safety, environmental and agricultural officials.

Al Shipe, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said this year’s drought could easily claim the title of worst in recorded history, topping 1988. Since the drought started in Indiana’s “wet season” of June and July, the coming “dry season” — stretching from August to October — will do nothing to help, he said.

The consequences of an extended drought are fairly obvious, Shipe said: “You may not have water to drink, you may not have water to fight fires with.”

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman added 14 counties to the state’s disaster area Wednesday. Those counties and the 11 bordering them can now apply for assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers have eight months from the disaster declaration to apply for federal loans.

Joe Kelsay, director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, said that farmers can apply for federal loans with rates of 2.25 percent and can use the money to cover crop losses and daily expenses.

Eighty of Indiana’s 92 counties qualify for federal aid, and northeast Indiana and southwest Indiana continue to be the hardest hit.

State efforts to conserve water are voluntary for now, but that could change if a statewide “water shortage emergency” is declared.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources sent a notice Wednesday to “significant water withdrawal facilities,” those using at least 100,000 gallons daily, asking them to cut back by 10 percent to 15 percent.

State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson asked people to be more careful at home because firefighting supplies — ranging from water to fire-suppressant foam — are being overtaxed. He also asked smokers to stop tossing cigarette butts out of their cars because of the increased likelihood it’ll cause field fires.


State drought information:


Posted 7/19/2012