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June 26, 2007

Weekend rain helps, but state still dry, climatologists say

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Western Indiana is still drier than normal - but better off - after a weekend of soaking rain. The story is different for eastern Indiana, which received little to no precipitation and could see its drought status remain the same or worsen, said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist at Purdue University.

"Most of the rain fell in west-central and southwest Indiana," Scheeringa said. "Those areas had 1-3 inches. Terre Haute and Vincennes both received about 3 inches, with some locations receiving even more.

"Unfortunately, the rest of Indiana received less than 1 inch. The southeast corner of Indiana appears to be in the worst shape. It was the first area of the state impacted by drought, and it received little rain over the weekend."

There is a chance of rain Tuesday (June 26), with a 30 percent to 40 percent chance of storms on Wednesday and Thursday (June 27-28), Scheeringa said. Temperatures could top 90 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday before cooler conditions set in by the weekend.

The outlook for July 2-8 calls for below normal precipitation and temperatures.

"We've got more chances for rain in the next several days, but we won't necessarily get more rain," Scheeringa said. "More fronts are moving in but they are mostly dry."

Between May 1 and June 21 rainfall deficits ranged from 1-8 inches statewide. Because of the weekend rain, shortfalls in counties close to the Illinois state line were cut by half or more.

"We think western Indiana will improve from a moderate drought to abnormally dry status when the National Drought Mitigation Center releases its next drought map on Thursday," Scheeringa said. "Southeast Indiana could go the other way, however. They came into the week in a moderate drought, and we think they will either stay there or move to a severe drought."

Indiana's dry weather pattern is the result of an arid tropical air mass that climatologists call a "Bermuda high." The large high-pressure area has produced extreme drought conditions in the Southeast states.

"Indiana is on the fringe of a very large drought area that is centered over the southern and southeast United States," said Dev Niyogi, Indiana state climatologist. "What we will be watching for is more or less a flash drought - the opposite of a flash flood - in parts of Indiana. This hot, dry air mass sitting over the state has allowed the soil to dry out very quickly."

For updated Indiana drought and weather conditions, visit the Indiana State Climate Office Web site at http://www.iclimate.org.

Writer: Steve Leer, (765) 494-8415, sleer@purdue.edu

Sources: Ken Scheeringa, (765) 494-8105, kens@purdue.edu

Dev Niyogi, (765) 409-3476, climate@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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