Is the drought over?

Drought has been a big problem for Michiana this summer, but now that we have had some rain, is the drought over?

It starts with a string of nice days, and then suddenly you notice your lawn getting brown. Drought creeps in slowly and then can have a crippling effect on the world around us.

This summer, Michiana, along with much of the country, has seen one of the worst droughts on record.

“Indiana itself, nearly the entire state is in drought conditions, and that’s the worst it’s ever been, with over 80 percent of the state in moderate to extreme drought,” explains Sam Lashley of the National Weather Service.

The lack of rain has taken a toll on our water resources. Last week, the Department of Natural Resources issued a water shortage warning, and asked the significant water withdrawal facilities across the state, those that pump at least 100,000 gallons per day, to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 10 to 15 percent.

“Water under the surface hasn’t changed much, but the water above the ground like the creeks and everything, ponds, rivers are all drying up or getting real low,” describes Jim Ousley of James Ousley Well Drilling. “So they have to drill wells just to replace the water in the creeks and rivers. We’ve been real busy. It’s dry all over, and farmers just can’t keep up, so they’re drilling wells as fast as they can.”

But then, finally we got some rain, and then some more.

“Drought has a positive and negative feedback, once you become dry, you stay dry,” says Lashley. “But once you start getting moisture back into the ground, then these systems can feed on that and produce more rainfall.”

That’s our hope, that we keep seeing these systems moving over Michiana, and holding together so we see more beneficial rain.

But just because we have seen some nice rain over the past 2 weeks, that doesn’t mean we’re done with the drought. The latest drought monitor, just released Thursday morning, shows no change in the drought status for Michiana.

“There’s certainly a concern, particularly with surface water, that unless we get some pretty substantial rainfall and the pattern kind of changes, that there is still going to be some lingering impacts of surface water availability,” says Mark Basch of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “Groundwater, once the pumping stops, I think we’ll see that recover fairly well, but I’m not certain we’ll see that with the surface water supply.”

Just like drought takes its time to sink in, it will be slow to erode as well.

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