No burn ban yet for Monroe County, but EM director says: “Make good decisions when you’re burning things.”

At Wednesday’s meeting of Monroe County commissioners, county director of emergency management Allison Moore told them no outdoor burn ban was yet recommended for the county, despite persistent dry conditions.

She still asked the public to exercise caution: “We do challenge you to make good decisions when you’re burning things.” Making good decisions includes making sure you have a good preparedness plan in place, she added.

Moore said that she had been busy with other officials contemplating the same kind of burn ban that 14 other counties across south central Indiana had implemented over the last few weeks.

In this latest dry phase, the first county to declare a burn ban was Martin County, southwest of Monroe County, on Sept. 10.

Owen County, northwest of Monroe County, had earlier declared a ban, but lifted it on Oct. 1.

The quarter inch (0.24) of rain recorded at the weather station on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington during the month of September made it the third-driest September for the period of record dating back to 1895.

The driest September on record was last year, and that dry spell also prompted some surrounding counties to implement burn bans. Continue reading “No burn ban yet for Monroe County, but EM director says: “Make good decisions when you’re burning things.””

Free parking in downtown Bloomington … for voters

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Election Central at 7th and Madison streets on Oct. 25, 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The parking lot at Election Central in downtown Bloomington, at the corner of 7th and Madison streets, is now reserved for voters to park. Banners on both sides of the entrance say, “Voter Parking Only.” Continue reading “Free parking in downtown Bloomington … for voters”

At record high for this time of year, Lake Monroe starting to level off

Wednesday morning, a pontoon pilot approached the Lake Monroe causeway—it’s where SR 446 crosses the reservoir, leaving a gap at the south end for boaters to navigate under the road.

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View looking northwest under the SR 446 causeway across Lake Monroe on June 26, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

But the captain reversed his engine, brought his craft about, then idled, floating maybe 30 yards west of the underpass. He and his crewmate made quick work of the task that allowed them to navigate through the opening: They unclipped the guy wires and lowered the frame that held the canopy aloft.

They might have had enough clearance to scrape under the bridge, without lowering the sun shade. But the record-high levels of the lake—for this time of year—meant that it would have been close.

The normal level of the lake is 538 feet above sea level. But through Wednesday, Lake Monroe registered about 552.6 feet on the USGS gauge. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which manages the lake, typically reports water levels using the number of feet above the normal pool. That’s currently 14.6 feet. Continue reading “At record high for this time of year, Lake Monroe starting to level off”

Opinion: Bloomington should consider a different approach to stormwater revenue

At its regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 20, the Bloomington City Council will consider “adjusting stormwater fees.” It’s the second reading of a change to the city’s ordinance on the “stormwater utility.”

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The manhole cover near Indiana Avenue and 6th Street on Feb. 7, 2019.

Of course, a “fee adjustment” generally means an increase of the fee.

And Bloomington’s proposed adjustment is a more than doubling of the monthly fee paid by single-family residential (SFR) customers—implemented in two phases over six months. The first bump, to $4.32 per month, would go into effect about four months from now, on July 1, 2019. Six months after that, on Jan. 1, 2020, the rate would go up to $5.95 per month.

More than a decade and a half has gone by since the rate was increased. (It was Ordinance 03-24, enacted in 2003, that put the current rate into effect, according to the city’s online municipal code.)

Even as a recent arrival in Bloomington, I recognize that the city’s stormwater infrastructure needs some improvement. On Feb. 7, when around 3 inches of rain fell, I walked from 6th Street near the courthouse square to the Indiana University Credit Union near the IU football stadium. Continue reading “Opinion: Bloomington should consider a different approach to stormwater revenue”

2016 national database: Dillman Road bridge south of Bloomington proposed to be replaced

Social media was deluged with dramatic images of Bloomington area flooding last week, following heavy rain over a three-day period. They included a photo of water overtopping Dillman Road bridge at Clear Creek, posted on Facebook by Gregory Reed Travis, and a YouTube video of the same location shot by Cody Fleener. Geoff McKim added an aerial shot of the bridge after the waters had somewhat receded.

The Dillman Road bridge is one of 224 Monroe County bridges included in the National Bridge Inventory, a database maintained by the Federal Highway Administration.

Based on the latest records available in the NBI, after a March 2016 inspection, the Dillman Road bridge had a “Sufficiency Rating” of 44.9 out of 100. Records in the database show that replacement of the bridge is proposed.

The bridge is on an every-two-year inspection schedule, according to the database. The FHA has not yet posted 2018 NBI numbers online. Continue reading “2016 national database: Dillman Road bridge south of Bloomington proposed to be replaced”

Bloomington three-day rain total: 5.26 inches (17th rainiest three-day span on record)

The heavy rain that fell on Bloomington and the surrounding area on Thursday, Feb. 7 totaled 3.3 inches, based on data reported by the National Weather Service station on Indiana University’s campus.

That one-day total made yesterday the 28th rainiest day in Bloomington, since Nov. 16, 1895, when the station started keeping records. Yesterday’s 3.3 inches was only about half as much as the 6.56 inches that fell on Oct. 6, 1910, which remains the rainiest Bloomington day on record. Continue reading “Bloomington three-day rain total: 5.26 inches (17th rainiest three-day span on record)”

Late January cold sets record for Bloomington

Two records for cold temperature were set on the last day of January this year in Bloomington, Indiana: a coldest low of -10 F; and a coldest high of 2 F.

The day isn’t over yet, but the IU weather station—a National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program site—has a 24-hourly observation time of 7 a.m., according to the NWS.  So the daily temps for Jan. 31 from the IU station already appear in the NOAA Regional Climate Center database. Continue reading “Late January cold sets record for Bloomington”

Wednesday: Possible record low for the daily high temperature in Bloomington

The forecast subzero temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday in Bloomington, Indiana, have been revised by the National Weather Service since last week to go even lower that earlier predicted—on Tuesday -5 F and on Wednesday as low as  -7 F. Continue reading “Wednesday: Possible record low for the daily high temperature in Bloomington”

How cold is 2019 so far? (Cold enough for you? No.)

According to the Hazardous Weather Outlook provided by the National Weather Service, “dangerously cold air” will move into the Bloomington area by Tuesday night (Jan. 29), and drop the temperature below zero.

The forecast low temperature for Tuesday is around -3 F.

For Wednesday, the low is expected to be a couple degrees warmer at -1 F. Continue reading “How cold is 2019 so far? (Cold enough for you? No.)”

Second snow of 2019 gets more complaints than first

Bloomington has seen two snowfalls that delivered significant accumulations so far in 2019. A storm that moved through central Indiana from Jan. 11–12 dumped about 4 inches. The second snow started in the early evening of Saturday, Jan. 17 and left Bloomington swaddled in a 5-inch frigid blanket.

The first snow didn’t generate much activity in the city’s uReport system, which gives residents a way to log complaints about any topic, not just snow on sidewalks and streets. Continue reading “Second snow of 2019 gets more complaints than first”