BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Meteorologists remain cautious about predicting the end of the drought in Indiana, although much of the state has had plenty of rain in recent weeks.
Most of the southern area of the state is still 9 inches or more short of rain for the year, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Ryan said.
"We are heading in the right direction, but it's premature to say the drought is over," Ryan told The Herald-Times for a story Monday (http://bit.ly/Pneceu ).
The weather service measured 7.7 inches of rainfall in Indianapolis in September, making it the city's fifth-wettest September on record. That's more than the 6.98 inches that fell during April, May, June and July combined.
Weather patterns have "pretty much flipped" from what is expected, Ryan said, because July and June are typically wetter months, while September and October are usually dry.
This year, however, a high pressure ridge sat above Indiana for the first half of the summer and pushed storm farther north and into Canada. Recently, cold systems have dipped into the Midwest, producing more frequent rains and replenishing lakes and reservoirs.
The U.S. Drought Monitor report released last week continued to list about one-quarter of Indiana — mostly the state's southern tier closest to the Ohio River — as in a severe drought. In early August, the report classified two-thirds of the state in the more-serious categories of extreme or exceptional drought.
Shawn Naylor, a researcher with the Indiana Geological Survey, said well-water levels in areas with bedrock aquifer reached five-year lows in July. A well in the southern Indiana city of Jasper was about five feet below normal from where it was in July 2011.
Increased rains are beginning to replenish levels at the well, Naylor said, but the area still has a lot of ground to make up before reaching normal.
While forecasts call for more rain this week, Ryan warned Indiana's drought could spread past this year if precipitation doesn't persist.
"It's really been a tale of two summers," Ryan said.
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com