DISASTERS

Drought grips southern states, parches ground, withers crops

Authorities say extreme drought conditions are persisting in parts of Alabama and Georgia, wilting crops and raising the specter of wildfires.

Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly report that tracks drought conditions nationwide, showed the worst of the drought in Alabama's northeast corner, in northwest Georgia and across a swath of land mostly south and southeast of Atlanta.

In northwest Georgia, hard-hit by some of region's driest conditions, the report said crops have withered.

In North Carolina, the report showed that drought conditions are less severe, but a substantial number of trees are losing their leaves early and "yellowing way ahead of schedule."

Parts of northern Mississippi are also experiencing a severe drought, though not the extreme conditions being felt in Georgia and Alabama.