The specter of exceptional drought has shriveled to parts of just three counties, while drought-free areas continue to grow, according to Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor map for Arkansas.
Exceptional drought, the most intense form logged on the Drought Monitor map, last week covered nearly 9% of the state, all in northwest and north-central Arkansas. This week, the driest area covers .63% of the state -- the eastern part of Searcy County, the western part of Stone County and merely grazes the southern tip of Baxter County.
Meanwhile, the drought-free areas along the Louisiana border and Mississippi River have expanded from 6.04% last week to 6.53% this week, including parts of Columbia, Ouachita, Union, Calhoun, Bradley, Ashley Drew, Desha and all of Chicot counties.
Many parts of the state saw a little more rain Wednesday night as ranks of storms swept across the state. Preliminary reports from the National Weather Service include a tornado that damaged a building at Clarendon in Monroe County, a funnel cloud spotted near Seaton in Lonoke County and large hail near Glen Rose in Hot Spring County. Trees and powerlines were downed in Lonoke County, with a large tree blocking Arkansas 10 west of Booneville.
In Chicot County, "we just got rain," Gus Wilson, the extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Thursday morning. "It will just keep us out of the fields for another two to four days or so."
In Jefferson County, "all we had were sirens going off and a little wind and some raindrops," said Dennis Bailey, county extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
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Source: University of Arkansas.