Drought persists across Texas, other areas improve
(Reuters) - Drought kept a tight grip on Texas and parts of the South, though rainfall in Oklahoma and portions of the Midwest helped farmers and ranchers in those states find relief.
A storm system brought several inches of rain to areas through Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, recharging spent soils on farm fields and refilling dried-out ponds and lakes, according to the Drought Monitor report issued by a team of federal and academic climatologists on Thursday.
For some areas of the Midwest, this was the first significant rain in the last several months, according to the drought report. Kansas and Nebraska also benefited.
The Drought Monitor stated that 90.31 percent of Texas was now considered in extreme or exceptional drought. That was down from 90.42 percent a week earlier and the peak of the drought's grip on Texas - 96.99 percent of the state - for the October 4 reported week.
But the worst level of drought in Texas, exceptional drought, expanded to 65.82 percent from 64.95 percent, according to the Drought Monitor.
Also in the South, New Mexico and Arizona saw drought levels creep slightly higher.
But Oklahoma saw measurable improvement. The level of exceptional drought in that state dropped to 32.03 percent from 42.87 percent. And taking into account the second-worst level of drought, extreme drought, the dryness contracted to 66.53 percent from 85.48 percent, according to the Drought Monitor.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by John Picinich)