Exceptional drought area worsens in Arkansas

Associated Press Published: July 19, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Nearly 11 percent of Arkansas is experiencing exceptional drought conditions and the rest of the state shows scant improvement, despite a little rain last week, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Row crops are surviving thanks to irrigation, but cattle producers have been struggling with a hay shortage and a lack of green grass for their cows to eat. Many producers are selling all or part of their herds early.

Meteorologist John Robinson at the National Weather Service in North Little Rock said the most rain last week fell in southeast Arkansas. The drought category for part of the region eased slightly, but the state Forestry Commission is still advising residents that all of Arkansas is at high risk for wildfires.

Robinson noted that evaporation rates during extreme heat and low humidity can quickly wipe out the benefits of last week's rain, even though some places got enough to turn grass from brown to green, a welcome sight for cattle producers.

The weather service issued a heat advisory Thursday for most of Arkansas, and the state Health Department announced the state's first known heat-related death of the summer. The agency said privacy laws prevented it from disclosing details about the victim.

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