INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's drought is intensifying after
weeks of scant rainfall that have left cropland parched, raised the risk
of wildfires and sent homeowners scrambling to water lawns fading from
green to brown.
government's U.S. Drought Monitor map updated Thursday shows nearly 90
percent of Indiana is now abnormally dry. A moderate drought covers about
40 percent of the state, mainly northern Indiana and the state's
southwestern corner — a portion of which is experiencing a severe drought,
the map indicates.
state climatologist Ken Scheeringa said a weather system that pushed
across Indiana on Monday delivered little or no rain to parched areas. The
next good chance of rain is a week away and temperatures are forecast to
rise into the lower 90s in the coming days, he said.
lucky to get rain in the next week. It's very distant," Scheeringa said
He said the
lack of rain combined with sunny, warm conditions is forcing more moisture
out of the ground each day, drying up fields and turning lawns brown not
just in Indiana but surrounding states as well.
always this balancing act between how much rain comes into the soil and
how much leaves through evaporation. And right now evaporation is
winning," Scheeringa said.
Indiana counties — Marshall, Noble and Steuben — have imposed countywide
burn bans due to the risk of wildfires, and others could soon follow.
fire departments have battled about a dozen fires in the past week in
tinder-dry fields suffering from a 6-inch rainfall deficit, said
Kendallville Fire Chief Mike Riehm.
"It's just too
parched right now. There's a great danger of wind-whipped fires getting
out of control and moving really fast," he said.
drought has hit the state's far southwestern corner the hardest. An area
covering all or parts of eight southwestern counties is in the midst of a
severe drought, stung by a 10-inch rainfall deficit for the year.
County farmer Chris Winiger said that from March through the end of May
only about an inch of rain fell on his land.
system brought his fields between two-tenths and a half-inch of rain, not
enough to make much difference to his 800 acres of corn and 800 acres of
soybeans, he said.
"It was just
enough to give us hope for a while, but it wasn't a drought reliever,"
Winiger said. "We're hurting for rain."
He said if the
drought persists for another two to four weeks he expects to face
significant corn yield losses.
University agronomist Bob Nielsen said even if rain comes soon some of
Indiana's hard-hit corn and soybean fields will still face reduced yields.
But he said
that overall most of Indiana's top crops of corn and soybeans are faring
relatively well, in part because the dry spring allowed farmers to finish
planting weeks ahead of normal and crops are well established and deeply
statewide basis it's not yet a serious issue. If it were to start raining
soon I really do think we could come out of it in amazingly good shape,"
if the dry conditions persist for three weeks it would reduce corn yields
because by then fields will be entering the critical tasseling and
pollination period when ears of corn form.
lingering drought is an economic concern for farmers, it's also on the
minds of Indiana homeowners worried about their manicured lawns, which are
stressed and browning.
At White's Ace
Hardware on Indianapolis' northeast side, assistant manager John Blackwell
said sales of oscillating sprinklers and soaker hoses have risen
significantly in the past month.
a ton of those," he said. "All you have to do is go outside and drive the
neighborhoods and 99.9 percent of the grass is brown."