Arkansas No Longer in Drought

JANUARY 12, 2007 - Posted at 7:54 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - A drought that bedeviled Arkansas farmers and water-supply agencies for nearly two years is officially over for most of the state -- or at least as officially as it's likely to get.

After spring 2005 saw much lower-than-usual rainfall, the water shortage intensified later that year, with a drier final three months than any October-December period on record at the state's National Weather Service office.

At its peak, the drought prompted at least two Arkansas cities -- Fort Smith and Conway -- to seek alternative sources for their water systems as reservoir levels declined. Many farmers had to tap already-endangered underground water sources for irrigation of their crops.

But after a dry winter last year, the situation began to ease with rain during the spring, and 2006 ended with near-normal rainfall totals in much of Arkansas.

Now, the latest drought map by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, shows only an ``abnormally dry'' area -- not considered drought conditions -- in the state's southwest, and a tiny swath of far northwestern Benton County in the state's northwest.

More rain is forecast for today through Sunday.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)