Drought both spread and worsened across Indiana in the past week, with the northern and southwestern portions of the state continuing to suffer the most.

Nearly all parts of the state except the far southeast and eight counties in the northwest corner are now in some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu, released Thursday (June 21). A week ago, more than half of Indiana's 92 counties were not in drought, although most of them were abnormally dry, a watch category for possible drought to follow.

The outlook for rain through the end of June offers little hope for farmers who need moisture for crops that are losing potential yield because of lingering, intense dryness since May. Rain that was moving into Indiana on Thursday offered the best chance for moisture through the end of June, according to the Indiana State Climate Office, based at Purdue University.

"Spotty rains can relieve the plant stress, but we will need sustained widespread rains to get the drought stress reduced," said Dev Niyogi, state climatologist. "It would mean at least an inch or two of good rain over a wide region for a number of days."

Cooler air will flow from the interior lands of Canada during the remainder of this week but won't carry much moisture. This air mass will lower temperatures into the 70s by early next week, the office said. That at least will help to lessen evaporation of moisture from soils and crops.

The outlook for July is for continued above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation. A return to more normal amounts of rain is possible in late July or early August.

All or parts of six counties in far southwest Indiana are in extreme drought, the second-highest level of dryness on a five-point scale that ranges from abnormally dry to exceptional drought.

Most counties in northern Indiana and a few in the southwest are in severe drought, the third-highest level. Most of the central counties are in moderate drought, the lowest intensity level of drought. Parts of 15 counties in southeast Indiana are abnormally dry.

The dry weather also has reached most of Ohio. A majority of the state is considered abnormally dry, while portions of the northwest corner of the state have moved into the first two levels of drought.