Recent Rains Lift Some Spirits, Dampen Others

May 9, 2017

The Wabash River has risen, meaning its tributaries must hold more rainwater -- and some cannot.
Credit Wabash River Enhancement Corp.

National Weather Service officials say all the rain clouds this month may hold a silver lining for Indiana.

NWS hydrologist Al Shipe says this year was shaping up similarly to the most recent drought year of 2012 – until recently.

“This was the second-warmest start of the year to the record warm year of 2012," Shipe says. "Starting in early May of 2012, it got warmer and drier. This year, it got cooler and wetter.”

Shipe says that means it’s likely the state has at least forestalled, if not escaped, the possibility of a drought this year.

However, he says Southwest Indiana is bearing the brunt of the recent rainfall, because land downstream from the state’s major rivers cannot absorb any more rainwater.

In northern parts of the state, such as around Lafayette, Shipe says smaller streams pose the greatest threat.

He says isolated heavy rainfall has meant a boom-and-bust cycle for tributaries of the Wabash River, which have seen low-flow and flood conditions alternate in recent weeks.