By JIM SUHR, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A new report shows the drought in the nation's midsection is rapidly intensifying and shows no signs of abating.
The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows the range of the drought in the continental U.S. has increased only slightly in the past week.
But the severity is worsening. The report shows that the amount of U.S. land classified in extreme or exceptional drought jumped to more than 20 percent, up 7 percent from last week.
More than 63 percent of the continental U.S. is in some stage of drought, a portion unseen since the Drought Monitor started 1999.
Illinois is one of the hardest hit states. It saw its percentage of land in extreme or exceptional drought balloon from 8 percent last week to roughly 71 percent this week.