Drought expanding, but worst may be over


By Suzannah Couch

A report released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor shows Indiana's drought has continued to worsen, but a state climatologist says the state has now "turned a corner" and conditions should improve.

The state is now in the slow process of recovering from this summer's drought with the help of rain, said Ken Scheeringa, the associate state climatologist for Indiana.

"Even though the map is showing some worsening in some parts of the state, I think overall we've turned the corner," Scheeringa said. "The forecast is looking more encouraging to have some rainfall, so that I think we are now going to be on the upswing and hopefully get some improvement pretty soon."

The federal report showed that as of Tuesday, a quarter of the state was in "exceptional" drought, the worst of the report's categories. That was a slight increase from the previous week.

Another 44 percent was listed in the "extreme" drought category, with the rest of the state listed in either severe or moderate drought categories.

Farmers, nonprofits and small businesses in 82 Indiana counties are now eligible for federal assistance because of the drought, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Counties can apply for a loan amount of up to $2 million through the administration.

Scheeringa said it will take "quite a bit of rain" to end the drought.

"It's going to take a while before it all disappears," he said.

Scheeringa said the report shows that the drought is widening, but he said two to three weeks of "good rainfall" would improve the ratings. However, he said evaporation and runoff after a rainfall can decreases the effectiveness rain can have in helping end the drought.

Water usage restrictions have been put in place throughout the state because of shortages caused by the drought. Counties have also established countywide or local area burn bans to prevent fires from the lack of moisture.

Suzannah Couch is a reporter for The Statehouse File, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.


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