Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 30, 2013

We are happy to leave the dry spell behind


— Last week the drought of 2012 was still hanging on in northern Indiana, and today we have a flood watch. Who would have thought? Maybe the climate experts.

Purdue University climate experts stated earlier this week that our area still needed 1.5 inches of rain to come out of the drought that has been around since spring 2012. By tonight we should know if that rainfall amount was reached or surpassed.

Central and southern Indiana had already received enough rain the past couple of weeks to pull those areas out of the long drought. Winter rains can help recharge soil moisture if the ground thaws, but according to the National Weather Service, frozen ground is still present in northern Indiana and that means flooding can occur quickly as water washes of the hardened soil.

We are certainly concerned about flooding, as a large swath of Goshen is in the Elkhart River’s floodplain and there are other flood-prone areas along local creeks and drainage areas for farm fields.

Local residents should keep an eye out for trouble and — this is very important — never drive into a flooded section of road. A current can easily sweep away a vehicle and even standing water can quickly submerge a vehicle and its occupants. It is far better to drive a long way out of the way than to risk life and limb and an expensive vehicle.

This rainfall is causing concern about flooding, but we hope it will restore a balance in nature that has been lacking since last spring when temperatures soared to record highs and remained high through July.

Farm crops withered during the drought of 2012 and lake levels fell. The incomes of farmers shriveled in the heat, along with their corn. Businesses that rely on seasonal boating in our lake district that stretches from LaGrange County into Kosciusko County also felt the impact from the drought. Employees of  lawn care companies looked to the sky for rain to water lawns they mow to earn a living. So this week’s rains must seem like a blessing to all of them.

Beyond this week, the weather forecast is much better than it was for spring 2012. Purdue experts said forecasters expect more rain in northern Indiana this spring because way out in the Pacific Ocean where our weather patterns begin, conditions indicate a normal year of rainfall. They say that last year a La Niña pattern existed in the Pacific. When that pattern forms, we often get less rainfall in northern Indiana.

Nobody, not even weather forecasters, can predict the future with any certainty. So, while we move from winter’s snow to flood watch and then back to a blast of Arctic air this week, we should all stand by for what February will bring.