Monday's piddling rainfall wouldn't do much to divert Fort Wayne from one of its driest years on record, as the city's traditional second-wettest month seemed likely to pass without relief for parched crops and lawns.
Despite sprinkles and possible thunderstorms Monday, the Fort Wayne area would continue a 79-day streak without even half an inch of rain in any given 24-hour period, said Nick Greenawalt, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Syracuse.
"Right now we're sitting about six inches below normal," Greenawalt said. "What's kind of telling is normally, we see considerable flooding in the spring...and that hasn't been an issue whatsoever."
Fort Wayne's 79 days without substantial rain is the area's 25th-longest streak on record, Greenawalt said. This year is also tied for Fort Wayne's 5th-driest year through June 10.
But so far, 2012 closely matches 1962, which holds the record as the city's driest year ever, he said. In 1962, the area got only 24.4 inches of rain for the whole year, not because of a long dry streak but because rainfall was little and far between, Greenawalt said. This year bears a close resemblance, he said.
"It's not that we're getting so many consecutive days, but when we do get rain, it's not very much and it's pretty far between," he said.
And to date, 2012 has been even drier than the record-setting year. Only 10.36 inches of water has fallen this year, compared with 14.78 inches in 1962, according to National Weather Service data. Less than a tenth of an inch was expected to fall Monday.
River levels have remained normal despite the drought-like conditions, but farms and lawns are facing damage, Greenawalt said. Private water utility Aqua Indiana already has asked its Aboite Township customers to limit their lawn watering to preserve water.
For farmers, the arid spring already has hurt both spring and autumn crops, said David Kohli, a commodities trader with Allendale. The lack of rain forced farmers to start harvesting last fall's wheat at least two weeks sooner than normal – too early for the crop to fully mature, he said.
And if rain doesn't come soon, farmers could lose about a third of their potential corn crops because of poor growth, he said.
“At this point, we've definitely lost a sizable part of our potential on corn,” Kohli said.
Historically, the Fort Wayne area gets most of its wet weather from mid-May through mid-June, Greenawalt said. Fifty years ago, for example, rainfall increased by about 5 inches between May and June.
But the parched region's best opportunity for relief is quickly passing. After some showers Monday, the next week would likely go by without any more rain, according to weather service forecasts.
Still, area farms could produce normal yields if relief comes by July or August at the latest, said Gonzalee Martin, agriculture and natural resources educator with Purdue University's Allen County extension office.
"There's still time, but it's getting awful close to the time when yields will be affected by the lack of moisture," Martin said.