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US drought grows to cover widest area since 1956

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A new report shows the drought gripping the United States is the widest since 1956.

The monthly State of the Climate drought report released Monday by the National Climatic Data Center says 55 percent of the continental US is in a moderate to extreme drought. That's the most since December 1956, when 58 percent of the country was covered by drought.

This year, 80 percent of the US is abnormally dry, and the drought expanded last month with the 14th warmest and 10th driest June on record going back to 1895.

The nation's corn and soybean belt has been especially hard hit. The report says Midwest has experienced its seventh warmest and 10th driest April-to-June period. And it says crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at an alarming rate.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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