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(St. Louis) (AP) – Overall U.S. drought conditions have worsened for the second week in a row, reversing a recent easing in dry conditions in some areas and keeping the country mired in its worst drought in decades with no immediate relief expected for key Plains farming states.

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows that 62.7 percent of the land in the lower 48 states was in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 60.1 percent the previous week. The area in extreme or exceptional drought – the two worst classifications – also rose, to 20.12 percent from last week’s 19.04 percent.

Before the recent downturn, overall conditions had gradually eased over five weeks, offering short-lived encouragement to some of the hardest-hit areas.

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