Deluge Pushes Indianapolis to its Wettest Month on Record

July 28, 2015 05:00 PM
Deluge Pushes Indianapolis to its Wettest Month on Record

A summer of deluges that's left Indiana farmers with mounting crop losses has broken a 140-year-old precipitation record in Indianapolis, where this July is now the city's rainiest month on record.

The 1.25 inches of rain that fell Sunday night pushed the city to 13.13 inches of rainfall for July, eclipsing the previous all-time monthly precipitation record of 13.12 inches that fell in July 1875, the National Weather Service said.

Sunday's storms dumped up to three inches of rain on parts of central Indiana, sparking flash flooding that swamped streets in Indianapolis and adjacent counties and added to the woes of rain-weary farmers.

Weather Service hydrologist Al Shipe said the latest round of heavy rains kept up the unusually damp stretch that began in late May.

"The fact is most of the rivers and streams in the state have been at flood stage repeatedly since the end of May. That's when this started and we still haven't had a break," Shipe said.

The weather service said Monday that with this July's rain record, all of July's primary record extremes for Indianapolis have now occurred since 2011. July 2011 was the city's driest July, this month was the wettest, July 2014 was the coldest and July 2011 was the warmest.

June's heavy rains set a new statewide June rainfall record with a state average 8.99 inches. The previous record was 8.13 inches set in June 1958.

Although July has been significantly wetter than normal, and more rain is possible before the month ends Friday, a new statewide rainfall record for July isn't expected to be set this month, said Ken Scheeringa, Indiana's associate state climatologist.

And he said extended forecasts suggest that August will usher in a period of drier, as well as cooler weather.

"The outlook is for closer to normal August rainfall, so maybe we'll finally be getting to what summer should be like," Scheeringa said.

Drier weather would help Indiana farmers who've watched crops die or wither in low-lying, water-logged fields they can't enter with their farm equipment.

Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist, said July's continued rainfall has boosted to $500 million his estimate of the corn and soybean crop losses Indiana farmers will face this year.

Hurt said between about 25 percent and 30 percent of Indiana's corn and soybean crops were listed last week in either poor or very poor condition.

Last week, 26 percent of Indiana's corn acreage was rated in poor or very poor condition, giving the state the worst rain-damaged corn crop among the six Midwestern states hardest-hit by the soggy summer, he said.

"These rains have tended to go where we've already had too much. We have crops that are pretty severely affected," Hurt said.

June and July's heavy rains have left corn and soybean plants with unhealthy roots, stripped nutrients from the soil and spread plant diseases.

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