While far northern parts of Indiana are still drier than normal, the rest of the state has enjoyed conditions favorable to replenishing the soil moisture. An unseasonable warm-up occurred midway through the second week of January, according to Purdue University, which melted snowpacks and helped thaw the topsoil.
"We can't overemphasize the significance of this recharge in creating the much-needed reserves of soil moisture that can help alleviate the impacts of dry conditions if we start getting that around planting time," said Dev Niyogi, Indiana state climatologist. "While the general outlook is for normal rains in coming months, our recent experience guides us to think the threat of drought again is just round the corner and not off the mind or landscape. These rains and snow events are critical."
Light rain fell each day during the January warm-snap and totaled nearly six inches for the week in southwestern Indiana. Points north saw less rain -- commonly one to three inches statewide -- with the far north of Indiana seeing very little of the moisture.
"The outlook for soil moisture recharge into the early spring is encouraging," the climate office said. "A current Pacific Ocean neutral weather pattern - that is, neither El Niño nor La Niña - is expected to persist through spring. A year ago at this time, Indiana was in a La Niña pattern, which favors summer drought in the region."
Looking ahead, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sees equal chances through February for above, normal and below-normal precipitation. But by April in Indiana, NOAA expects above-normal precipitation.
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