That moisture on the cheeks of Wabash Valley residents today is probably sweat, not tears of sadness at the passing of July 2012.
It was the hottest, driest July in history for this community. We sweated through 29 days (out of 31) of temperatures above 90 degrees. On 12 days, thermometers hit triple digits. (All of those were in the 100s, thank goodness. If we had hit 200, you might not be reading this.) Three times — thrice — the mercury climbed to 106. Rainfall in Terre Haute measured a paltry 0.47 inches going into Tuesday (the final day of the month), well below the previous record of 0.55 set in 1997 and a whopping 7-plus inches below normal.
The U.S. Drought Monitor rates the situation here at its worst level, calling it an “exceptional drought.” Many of us would choose more colorful adjectives.
July contributed heavily to the Drought of 2012. It touched families, public services and businesses. Air conditioners ran almost non-stop. Gardens withered. Parched farmland left corn crunchy and curled, as if in October, but without ever maturing its harvest-ready grain. Lawn care crews and landscapers lost income, as did mower repair and gardening shops. The future of water-starved trees, even those aged 50 years or more, became iffy.
None of us should wish our lives away, but all who endured last month can be excused for waving it goodbye and good riddance.
We will look to August with a sense of optimism, despite the possibility of more of the same. The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s 30-day outlook calls for above-normal temperatures and below-median precipitation. That forecast does not sound like a drought-breaker, but nothing about the weather is certain until it happens. With that in mind, let’s look ahead with hope.
When it rains (and we are trusting it will), relish the moisture; pop open a lawn chair and get soaking wet as it pours down.
When the temps dip into the 80s (see, we are getting bubbly already), take a walk around the neighborhood.
When a cool breeze stirs, slip on a jacket, just for kicks.
Fire up the lawn mower, simply to make sure it still works.
Cheer the schoolkids as they pass by in school buses (yes, the first day of classes in Vigo County is near, Aug. 14).
Arid, scorching July is over. August, finally, has arrived. If the desert-like conditions do not abate, the month offers plenty of other things to celebrate — the Perseid Meteor Shower (it peaks in the early-morning hours of Aug. 12 and 13), National Water Quality Month (on second thought, scratch that one, for now), National Goat Cheese Month, National Panini Month, and, most reassuringly, National Happiness Happens Month. For the record, we hope a little rain happens, too; that would make us happy.