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Sunday, May 1, 2016

'Exceptional drought conditions' plague Putnam

Saturday, July 28, 2012

None of us certainly needs to be told it's been hot. And we sure don't need to be told it's been dry. We've all endured it together.

But now comes word that Putnam County and west-central Indiana are officially classified as under "exceptional drought conditions." That's even with it raining briefly at least twice Friday afternoon.

The worst drought conditions in the state have been reported in the area between U.S. 41 and the State Road 67 corridor, immediately southwest of the Indianapolis area.

That is the word today from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which reports that severe to exceptional drought conditions exist in nearly 90 percent of Indiana with more than half of the state in extreme drought conditions or worse.

The remaining 10 percent of Indiana has had abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.

Portions of west-central and central Indiana have received less than a half-inch of rainfall during the last week, allowing drought conditions to further deteriorate.

Most of the area has been running 10 inches or more below average in year-to-date rainfall.

Hardest hit has been Bloomington, which has had only 13.1 inches of rain since Jan. 1, putting it nearly 16 inches (15.98 to be exact) behind in rainfall for the year.

Terre Haute is nearly as bad off with only 12.98 inches of rain recorded for the year, making it 13.93 inches in arrears.

Lafayette has managed only 12.47 inches of rain for 2012 and is currently 8.98 inches behind on the year.

While Indianapolis has experienced a bit more rain (15.15 inches as of July 25), it remains 9.62 inches below average for the year.

While no official Putnam County rainfall totals are available, it stands to reason that the area is somewhere in the Terre Haute-Lafayette-Bloomington range, probably at least a dozen inches below normal for the year to date.

One look at the courthouse lawn, which now looks more like winter wheat than grass, is a great visual on just how dry it has been locally.

Meanwhile, the hot temperatures that have persisted since the end of June will relent some during the weekend and into the early part of August. However, what is needed to end the drought is a return to regular rainfalls averaging about an inch per week.

The effects of the drought were having a large impact on Indiana agriculture. Late-season crops, like corn and soybeans, may see their worst yields since the Great Drought of 1988, possibly even lower.

Wildfires continue to be a daily threat which is rarely seen in Indiana in July. The extremely dry conditions have caused nearly all counties in Indiana --- including Putnam -- to issue burn bans.

Also, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has issued a warning to boaters about low lake levels at the peak of boating season for some area lakes.

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