Empty shells rest on the cracked bed of a dried lake in Waterloo, Neb., on Nov. 20. A new report shows that the nation's worst drought in decades is getting worse again, ending an encouraging five-week run of improving conditions.(Photo: Nati Harnik, AP)
ST. LOUIS -- Holiday storms that pounded much of the nation with snow and rain did little to ease the overall grip of the worst U.S. drought in decades.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows that about 61 percent of the continental U.S. remained in some form of drought as of Tuesday, down less than a percentage point from the previous week. That number has been above 60 percent largely since July.
More than 21 percent of the lower 48 states are in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst categories. That's down slightly from the previous week.
All of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota are in drought.
But some areas in the Southeast are emerging from drought after heavy rains since Christmas Day.