LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Despite rainfall this week, the updated U.S. Drought Monitor map on Thursday showed that dry conditions are worsening across Arkansas.
A portion of the state that includes Conway County and parts of surrounding counties is now classified as in exceptional drought, the most severe category. The area in extreme drought, the second-most severe classification, doubled from a week ago to 71 percent of the state.
Pockets on the fringes of the state are in either severe or moderate drought.
"This is going to put some people out of business," Hank Chaney, Faulkner County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Thursday.
The effect of the drought has even extended to some row crop farmers. Some farmers who rely on ponds for irrigation are finding that the ponds are drying up. Cattle producers have been scrambling to find hay for their cows.
The drought has caused grass across the state to brown over. Ranchers have been culling their herds as they try to stay in business.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Agriculture Department granted a disaster declaration for 69 of Arkansas' 75 counties because of the drought.
The exceptional drought classification covers 3.25 percent of the state. The listing affects all of Conway County and portions of Pope, Van Buren, Faulkner and Perry counties.
The entire state remains at high risk of fire danger, and firefighters from the Arkansas Forestry Commission have fought daily wildfires for weeks. Local fire departments have also been suppressing smaller fires in cities and rural communities.
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