Drought Report for Northern Indiana, Southwest Lower Michigan, and Northwest Ohio

Last Updated:  4/2/2013

by Courtney Obergfell, Meteorologist


Near to above normal rainfall and several episodes of heavy rainfall and snowmelt over the past few months have led to the eradication of drought conditions across the area. Water levels and streamflows on local rivers, streams, and lakes have improved slightly due these periods of heavy rainfall and snowmelt. According to the latest Drought Monitor, only smalll portions of northeast Indiana and southern lower Michigan remain in the abnormally dry category (D0) due to lingering long term deficits.

Latest Drought Information: 

The categories of drought are defined as follows:

Abnormally Dry (D0) - Going into drought: short-term dryness slowing planting, growth of crops or pastures; fire risk above average. Coming out of drought: some lingering water deficits; pastures or crops not fully recovered.

Moderate Drought (D1) - Some damage to crops, pastures; fire risk high; streams, reservoirs, or wells low, some water shortages developing or imminent, voluntary water use restrictions requested.

Severe Drought (D2) - Crop or pasture losses likely; fire risk very high; water shortages common; water restrictions imposed.

Extreme Drought (D3) - Major crop/pasture losses; extreme fire danger; widespread water shortages or restrictions.

Exceptional Drought (D4) - Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; exceptional fire risk; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells, creating water emergencies.

For a review of the drought in 2012, see our news story here.

To report drought related impacts in your area, please go to the Drought Impact Reporter and click on Submit a Report



Latest Climate Information: 
Below is a table of rain totals across the area for March 2013, Winter (December 2012-February 2013) and 2013 to date and their departure from normal.
Location March
from Normal
from Normal
(thru 3/14/13)
from Normal
Benton Harbor, MI 1.27" -0.84" 6.84" +1.02" 5.50" -0.30"
Defiance, OH 0.63" -1.44" 6.52" +1.59" 5.31" -0.07"
Fort Wayne 2.34" -0.37" 7.49" +0.42" 7.63" +0.62"
Goshen, IN 0.55" -1.72" 6.99" +0.94" 5.53" -0.68"
Lima, OH 1.56" -0.13" 6.98"  +0.56" 6.00" -0.50"
NWS Office1 2.09" -0.60" 8.67" +0.87" 8.03" +0.34"
South Bend 1.26" -1.16" 10.92 +4.07" 8.75" +2.09"
1 Climate normals for the NWS Office are pseudonormals that are based on the 10 year normal period of 2000- 2009


Below is a map of radar estimated rainfall departures from normal over the last 180 days, ending 3/14/2013.

Northern Indiana, IN (IWX): Current 180-Day Departure from Normal Precipitation Valid at 3/14/2013 1200 UTC - Created 3/15/13 0:21 UTC



Water Balance at the NWS Northern Indiana Office: 
Beginning on June 11, 2012, the NWS Northern Indiana began to measure daily evaporation rates by using an evapotranspiration (ET) gage. The following chart shows the water balance at the NWS Northern Indiana office through the end of September using observed precipitation and evapotranspiration measurements with a description of the plot on the right. These measurements are taken at 8am EDT daily but have ended for the season due to freezing temperatures. Measurements will resume again in the spring. Click on the figure to go to a larger interactive version on the CoCoRaHS website.

The two largest components of the hydrologic cycle are precipitation and evapotranspiration. A water balance chart is basically a graphical accounting system to track incoming moisture (precipitation) and outgoing (evapotranspiration). When precipitation equals or exceeds evaporation there is a surplus of water leading to lush vegetation, soil moisture recharge and possibly bountiful runoff and streamflow. But when evapotranspiration consistently exceeds precipitation, vegetation may wilt, streamflow may diminish and irrigation water may be required to keep lawns, gardens and fields green and growing.




Current Soil Moisture Estimates: 

 Click on the images below for more information on current soil moisture estimates and departures from normal from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

0 to 4 inch
0 to 20 inch
0 to 72 inch



Latest Burn Ban Information: 
Recent rainfall has led counties in northern Indiana to lift the burn bans that were in place for much of the summer. Residents are still urged to be cautious with cigarettes, matches, and other open flames or activities that could spark wildfires. Below is a map and link to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security which shows current burn restrictions.
Residents should check with their county or city officials before starting any burning, even if located in counties not under a formal burn ban. Burn ban maps are not available for the states of Ohio and Michigan at this time.

Latest Streamflow Conditions: 

 Click on the images below for more information on current water data from the USGS.

Indiana Michigan Ohio

Latest Drought Indicator and Outlook Graphics: 
According to the latest Short-Term Drought Indicator, which looks at the Palmer Drought Index, Palmer-Z Index, one and three month precipitation, and soil moisture, there are no short-term drought indicators across the area. Short term drought impacts, which are usually on a scale of 6 months or less, typically include impacts to agriculture and grasslands.
 According to the latest Long-Term Drought Indicator, which looks at the Palmer Hydrologic Index, precipitation from six to sixty months, near normal conditions are present, due to especially wet years in 2010 and 2011, with many portions of Ohio experiencing record wet years in 2011. Long-term drought impacts, which are usually on a scale of 6 months to many years, typically include impacts to water tables and reservoir levels.  

The latest Seasonal Drought Outlook indicates improvement in drought conditions throughout the next 3 months across the Drought Monitor drought area. The discussion can be found here.

Latest Short-Term Precipitation Outlooks: 
HPC 5-Day forecast CPC 6-10 day outlook CPC 8-14 day outlook


Latest Long-Term Precipitation Outlooks: 
CPC one month and three month climate outlooks

Keep up to date with the latest forecast information for your location by entering your zip code in the box in the top left hand corner of this page. For other news and informtation, check back with the NWS Northern Indiana homepage, visit and "Like" our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter @NWSIWX.

Related web sites

Additional information on current drought conditions may be found at the following web addresses:

U.S. Drought Monitor...http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
NOAA Drought Page...http://www.drought.noaa.gov
Climate Prediction Center (CPC)...http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
Midwest Regional Climate Center...http://mcc.sws.uiuc.edu
Indiana State Climate Office...http://www.iclimate.org

Additional river information...
US Army Corp of Engineers...http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil


If you have any questions or comments about this drought information please contact:

Courtney Obergfell - Drought Focal Point
NWS Northern Indiana


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