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Extreme drought spreading in state

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Most of the state is experiencing drought and "extreme" drought has spread across Blount County as well as parts of Jefferson and Walker counties, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

"Extreme" is the second most intense of the four drought levels — exceptional, extreme, severe and moderate. Seventy-five percent of Alabama was listed in Thursday's report as having some level of drought. Other North Alabama counties are experiencing severe drought, while many in Central Alabama are have a moderate level.

Some South Alabama counties are "abnormally dry," while others have no drought conditions.

From January through Wednesday, Birmingham had only 7.22 inches of rain, which is 11.41 inches short of normal. January through March was the city's second-driest in 112 years.

Lake Purdy and another Water Works reservoir have dropped below full-pool level this spring, which is unusual for April.

Binnie Myles, Water Works communications manager, said Purdy Lake is down 5 inches and Inland Lake is down 7.4 feet.

Water Works issued a Stage 1 drought advisory calling for voluntary reduction of water use two weeks ago.

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Unger said weather models predict 1-11/2 inches of rain sometime from Tuesday through Thursday.

In Cullman County, which leads the state in agricultural production, drought and the hard frosts over Easter have killed much of the newly growing warm-weather grasses.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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