Drought Conditions Persist, Fire Danger Still High (Issued 10/11/07)

Drought Conditions Persist, Fire Danger Still High
Statement issued Thursday, October 11, 2007
Next update planned for Thursday, October 25, 2007
Updates will now be moved to once every two weeks instead of every week due to the fact that agricultural growing season has ended. If significant changes occur that will substantially impact drought status before the next scheduled update, an intermediate update will be issued.
There was rainfall in the past week, but most of it fell in areas that do not have drought conditions present. Some isolated heavier rain was found across parts of central and southern Indiana, but it was so small in coverage that it did not substantially impact the drought status.
Extreme and record breaking heat was found across most of Indiana during the last week. This extreme heat caused high evaporation rates this past week.
Conditions in Indiana were largely unchanged, ranging from no impacts in the far north to extreme drought in the far south. Significant long term rainfall deficits, soil moisture deficits, and deep groundwater deficits, as well as high fire danger continue in central and southern Indiana.
Depicted below,  Extreme Drought (D3) and Severe Drought (D2) conditions existed as of October 9 across southern Indiana.  The worst of the drought conditions were found in an area right along the Ohio River. Much of the remainder of central Indiana is in Moderate Drought (D1)  or Abnormally Dry (D0) conditons..  Numerous small fires have broken out in central and southern Indiana as a result of prolonged drought conditions.  Fire danger remains high in southern Indiana despite last weeks rain, and a full burning ban is now in effect for the Hoosier National Forest.
No drought conditions exist in northern  Indiana.
Since April 1, rainfall totals across much of Central Indiana are well below normal. From April 1 through October 10, the normal rainfall at the Indianapolis International Airport is 24.03 inches. This year, 14.57 inches of rain has fallen since April 1. This is below normal by almost nine and a half inches and the driest during this time period since 1988.  Rainfall for the period April 1 - October 10 at Indianapolis is the 4th driest of record.
A rainfall surplus from late 2006 through 2007 helped to keep deep groundwater levels high earlier this spring. However, in summer season and early fall, these groundwater well levels have been steadily declining  because of below normal rainfall, increased local use and high transpiration rates.
US Drought Monitor, July 31, 2007

Local Area Impacted:
Abnormally Dry (D0) to Extreme Drought (D3) conditions existed in central and southern Indiana as of October4.  The extreme drought conditions were near the Ohio River.  There are no drought conditions in northern Indiana.


State and Local Actions:

As of October 10, a forest wide burn ban was in effect for all of the Hoosier National Forest.
A burning ban existed in 15 central and southern Indiana counties, and was also in place for the unincorporated areas of Clark and Vanderburgh counties in southern Indiana.   No known water restrictions are in place at this time, but area water companies continue to urge customers to use water wisely.

Fire Danger Information:
Fire season is now underway in central and southern Indiana. Drought conditions are causing tree leaves to turn color and fall.  Indiana Department of Natural Resources estimates that leaf drop may be as much as 3 weeks ahead of normal in southern Indiana. Falling leaves help to contribute to higher fire danger.
As noted above, a full burning ban is in effect for the Hoosier National Forest. Please see http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier/docs/fire/fire_ban.htm
Little widespread rain has fallen in southern Indiana since Friday, September 28.  Fire danger south of Interstate 70 remains high. This season has seen many small fires, generally south of U.S. Highway 50 in southern Indiana. 
To date, the number of fires affecting 20 acres or more is 40% higher this year than in 2006. 
It is important for residents of central and southern Indiana to be extremely careful while conducting outdoor burning, and to be aware of local burn bans that are issued by their county or city.
Fire weather forecasts can be obtained from these locations:
For Central Indiana: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ind/?n=fireweather
For Southern Indiana: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/?n=fireweather

Reservoir Levels:
Rainfall this week has been too little and not widespread enough to slow the declines of area reservoirs.  Eagle Creek and Morse Reservoirs are at their lowest levels of the year and will continue to drop until significant rain returns.  
Geist Reservoir is almost 2 feet below normal. The levels at Morse and Eagle Creek are 5 feet or more below normal. 
Here is some current information regarding the levels and historical context.
Readings are current as of  Thursday morning, October 11, 2007.

Reservoir Name

Current Level

Normal (Pool or Spillway Height)

Lowest of Record


783.2 Feet

785 Feet

778.4 (Nov 3, 1988)

Eagle Creek

785.2 Feet

790 Feet

778.7 (Nov 11, 1991)


804.9 Feet

810 Feet

800.3 (Nov 19, 1999)

This information from NWS Indianapolis Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services (AHPS) page. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=ind
Morse Reservoir remains at its third lowest level ever.
Eagle Creek Reservoir is currently at its fifth lowest level ever.

Climatological Summary:
As of October 1, precipitation deficits since May 1 in central and southern Indiana ranged from 4 to 20 inches.  So much rain fell earlier in August in northern Indiana that some rainfall surpluses continue.  Heavy rain near Terre Haute during September caused a slight precipitation surplus for the time period since May 1.
The image below is courtesy of the Indiana State Climate Office at www.iclimate.org and it provides a graphical representation of mean rainfall deficits since  May 1, 2007 for stations within the Cooperative Weather Observer Network. 

Soil Moisture Conditions
As of October 11, the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) indicated soil moisture deficits (in the top six feet of soil) of between 1 and almost 4 inches in Central and Southern Indiana. The greatest deficits were found in southern Indiana.  The image below is courtesy of the MRCC at http://mrcc.sws.uiuc.edu

Groundwater Impacts:
Groundwater wells in southern Indiana are in the “below normal”  category.  Groundwater levels continue to fall slowly.  Groundwater levels may take several days to several week to increase once regular rainfall returns.   The image below is courtesy of the USGS at http://groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/

River and Stream Flow Conditions:
Streamflow in portions of central and southern Indiana are near normal.  However, streamflow in much of the East Fork White River Basin is below to much below normal for the season.  Streamflow in northern Indiana remains above normal.  The map below indicates the comparison of current flow levels to normal conditions for this time of year. The map is courtesy of the USGS at http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch
map legend for real-time streamflow condition map

Precipitation/Temperature Outlooks:
The six to ten day outlook, covering the period of October 16 through October 20 indicates above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation. The eight to fourteen day outlook, covering the period of October 18 through October 24 indicates above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall. 
During this time period, normal precipitation in central Indiana is just under half an inch for October 16 through October 20 and near six tenths of an inch for the period of October 18 through October 24.
The ninety day outlook through the end of December 2007 calls for an enhanced likelihood of above normal temperatures and equal chances of above, below, or near normal values of precipitation across all of Indiana. 
Long term outlooks are courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center: www.cpc.noaa.gov

Questions or Comments:
Logan Johnson
Climate Services Focal Point
National Weather Service, Indianapolis
Telephone: (317) 856-0360
E-mail: logan.johnson@noaa.gov

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