Indiana Fidgets Over Summer Drought Concerns

June 21, 2016 11:04 PM

Some northern Indiana counties are already abnormally dry, and a Purdue climatologist is worried it will only get worse across the state as the summer progresses.

“[Reduced rainfall and hotter landscapes], combined with the need by plants to replace water lost through evaporation, is setting a classic scenario for a regional drought,” according to Dev Niyogi.

Associate state climatologist Ken Scheeringa says that if La Niña conditions develop quickly and arrive with moderate intensity, drought conditions could be persistent across the Hoosier State by August. “Signature” impacts of La Niña include above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation, he says – a bad combination for the state’s grain producers.

At the same time, extended periods of dry conditions are no surprise to Indiana farmers, Niyogi adds. In 2015, heavy spring rains followed by dry summer conditions produced the smallest corn crop in Indiana since 2012, when a once-in-a-generation extreme drought devastated much of the Corn Belt. Last year’s soybean crop was mostly able to recover from dire weather, however.

“Droughts don’t always mean lowered yields,” Niyogi says. “The timing, intensity, duration and area covered matter.”

NOAA’s summer outlook is calling for typical summer precipitation across the Corn Belt, and elevated temperatures likely – especially in the eastern Corn Belt. Meantime, Bill Kirk, CEO of weathertrends360, says when the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation cycles are both in their warm phases (as they are now), the U.S. is at significantly higher risk for major summer droughts.

“Interestingly, when we line up very strong PDO, AMO and emerging La Niña, you end up with the kind of spring we just had - cool with normal to above normal rainfall,” he says. “But look what happens for summer - an epic change toward scorching heat, drought and dry weather.”


Darkest red portions are classified as "exceptional drought" by the National Drought Mitigation Center. Light yellow is classified as "abnormally dry." Zoom or search for your address to see drought conditions in your area. © Christopher Walljasper, Farm Journal Media / National Drought Mitigation Center


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Spell Check

Arthur Birchmeier
Flushing, MI
6/18/2016 08:13 AM

  This drought is in my location also we only have .8 in. A month crops are rough.

Dusty Roads
Yates City, IL
6/19/2016 01:03 PM

  1 inch in four different events over the last six weeks. Temps are above normal. Solar radiation is high. Evapo-transpiration rates are using up @ .25 inches/day. All this and working with 7 inches behind normal rainfall for the year. It's getting thirsty and beginning to hurt...

central, MN
6/18/2016 12:28 PM

  In 1983, we had 5.5 inches of rain on June 20th. We also had 12 inches of rain for the month of June. By July 15th we needed rain. We got 2 inches in a violent thunderstorm. From July 15th until August 20th it 90 degrees or above everyday. We had significant yield lose. So a drought this year is possible. But reality not likely.


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