The heat finally subsided somewhat this week – whoever would have thought 90 degrees might seem cool? – but the rains did not come, so now we have a new weather obsession: drought.
Federal officials on Thursday declared more than half of Indiana and nearly a third of the nation “a natural disaster area” for ranchers and farmers. With so many crops damaged or threatened, the farm economy in Indiana is expected to lose $1 billion, and that’s if the drought doesn’t get even worse. Get ready for higher food prices.
Indianapolis wasn’t in the disaster area, but it was enduring it longest dry spell in more than 100 years, and city officials late in the week banned lawn watering and other “non-essential” uses of that precious liquid, and other cities in central Indiana were considering them. In Fort Wayne, Three Rivers Festival representatives said the RiverGames part of the festival would not be affected, despite the low river levels.
State officials met and talked and then took a wait-and-see attitude, deciding for the time being not to expand the water shortage warning area from the 32 counties named earlier, 18 in the northeast and north-central parts of the state and 14 in the southwest corner.
The National Weather Service was predicting anywhere from a 40 to a 50 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms over the weekend. Any rain that does come is not likely to ease the situation, Hoosiers are being warned; it will merely keep things from getting worse.