(AP) — At least 80 percent of Indiana is suffering at least a moderate
drought and the state's southwestern corner has extreme drought
conditions, according to a national watchdog's report released Thursday.
parched conditions have prompted more than 40 of Indiana's 92 counties to
implement open burning bans, with local officials worried about fires
spreading quickly from tinder-dry grass and vegetation.
the Evansville area are the driest, while a wide swath of the state from
around Lafayette to north of Fort Wayne is in a severe drought, according
to the new U.S. Drought Monitor map.
Much of the
state has gone for weeks without significant rain. The National Weather
Service has recorded rainfall of just one-hundredth of an inch for June in
Indianapolis through Wednesday, said meteorologist Amanda Homann.
pretty dry," Homann said Thursday, with the highest rainfall in the state
reported at a quarter of an inch. "You can't get any drier than a
the Evansville area was 11.37 inches below average for the year, said
Deanna Lindstrom, a program supervisor with the weather service office in
Marshal Jim Greeson said sporadic grass fires have been reported around
the state in recent weeks, but nothing severe. That could change if the
dry weather continues, he said.
easy to create a spark in many ways, just doing outside work with tools
and things," Greeson said. "And it doesn't take a lot of spark to catch
dry grass on fire."
Indiana's 831 fire departments are adequately equipped to deal with grass
fires, Greeson said, but multiple fires could tax their resources and burn
out of control.
real danger," he said.
hazard this time of year is fireworks, Greeson said, but there's only so
much officials can do to lower that risk.
Under a state
law passed in 2007, local governments aren't allowed to restrict the use
of fireworks during certain hours from June 29 through July 8, he said.
said some counties have handled burn bans through disaster declarations
and included fireworks. Those local prohibitions haven't been challenged
in court, he said.