WARSAW — It doesn’t take a trained meteorologist to remind you we’ve had a long period of gloomy, cloudy, rainy weather this spring with very few consecutive days of sunshiny weather.
But meteorologists certainly know how to quantify it.
Indiana and much of the Midwest have seen above-average rainfall this spring and that promises to continue this weekend with the official arrival of summer, according to a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
While the rain totals this spring have not been exactly record-breaking, the way it’s fallen in recent weeks has been unique in parts of northern Indiana.
“It’s not like we’re getting giant amounts of rain a number of days in a row, it’s just that we keep getting some sort of rain every day to keep the soil moist,” said Chris Roller, a meteorologist for weather service in North Webster.
In Goshen, during the official meteorological spring season that runs from March 1 to May 31, 14.02 inches of rain fell this year, second only to 2011 when 16.32 inches of precipitation was recorded. Those records go back as far as 1948.
Hardly any of that came in big waves. More like a drip, drip, drip spread over many days: During the month of May, Goshen saw rainfall on 23 days, matching the past record set in 2011, based on figures dating back to 1998, the weather service said.
That trend continued into June. According to NWS statistics, Goshen saw 74 days with some level of precipitation from March 1 to June 16. That is nearly double the average (44).
Fort Wayne saw less total rain in May but recorded some level of precipitation on 25 of those days, which was the most since the weather service began tracking that statistic since 1990, according to the weather service.
The culprit for much of that has been a lengthy weather pattern involving a low-pressure trough to the west, and a ridge of high pressure to the east which allowed for a continual pull of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico up and through the Plains and into the Midwest.
Roller said that type of weather pattern has acted much like a conveyor belt, providing near daily rainfall.
“We’ve had pretty consistent frontal systems and boundaries across our area that have allowed for a pattern of continuous chances of rains and sometimes thunderstorms,” Roller said.
While the National Weather Service does not have extensive records for Kosciusko County, more detailed accounts are available in Goshen as well as South Bend and Fort Wayne. Given the extent of the pattern, what’s happening north, east and west of Warsaw are very similar to what’s been seen in Kosciusko County.
In 2018, there was spring flooding due to melting snow and some intense rainfalls that caused numerous rivers and lakes to flood across parts of northern Indiana. Those downfalls included one day of torrential rain and several other days with more than an inch of rain.
This year, a handful of rivers have had minimal flooding, but those thinned out quickly, Roller said.
That two-week period of rainfall in Goshen was different. “You just don’t see it occur that often this late in the season,” said Roller.
The likelihood for above-average rainfall in northern Indiana is expected to continue with an influx of low-pressure systems crossing the region.
While Warsaw has seen a cool and dry start to the week, including a nice day on Tuesday, June 18, the weather service is predicting more rain Wednesday through Sunday.
The three- to four-week outlook indicates an above normal chance for precipitation for northern Indiana. And the three-month outlook through August calls for above normal rainfall, Roller said.
The wet conditions this spring have caused havoc for farmers. Overall, a large portion of farmers in Indiana and much of the Midwest struggled to get their corn and soybean crops planted. That has been reduced greatly in the past week, according to the US Department of Agriculture.