Healthy rains across this corner of the state in the last week haven’t reduced the official severity of the drought. The majority of northeast Indiana remains in extreme drought.
Across the state, the news is worse. This morning’s update of the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that 58 percent of the state remains in extreme drought or worse, up from 54 percent last week. Now 19 percent of the state, a swath across the southwest quadrant of the state, is in “exceptional” drought – the worst category.
Last week, less than 1 percent of the state was rated as “exceptional” drought.
The drought report shows that all or nearly all of LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Whitley, Huntington, Wabash and Kosciusko counties are in extreme drought, along with about a third of Allen County and two-thirds of DeKalb County. The rest of northeast Indiana is in severe drought.
Allen County has received 1.5-3 inches of rain in the last seven days, as has most of northeast Indiana, according to the National Weather Service. The weather service uses radar to provide a rough measure of the amount of rain that falls across the region.
The Drought Monitor is operated by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in cooperation with other governmental and academic experts. Its weekly analysis is based on information collected by 7 a.m. Tuesday and is released Thursday morning.
The long drought has led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare a natural disaster in 14 more of Indiana’s 92 counties. Every county in northeast Indiana already had been included before this week. The USDA added the following counties Wednesday: Blackford, Boone, Clinton, Delaware, Fountain, Henry, Madison, Montgomery, Rush, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo and White. Along with adjacent counties, they qualify for low-interest relief loans from the federal government.
Federal officials say 71 percent of Indiana’s corn crop is in poor to very poor condition due to drought and heat stress. Drought conditions are expected to continue as late as October.