Drought now covers more than 40 percent of North Carolina

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Five North Carolina counties are now in the highest level of drought as the dry conditions move east from the state’s mountains.

State officials say Graham, Macon and Swain counties have joined Cherokee and Clay counties as being in an exceptional drought, the highest level determined by the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council and the U.S. Drought Monitor.

More than 40 percent of the state is now in some stage of drought, up from 30 percent last week. Abnormally dry conditions, the lowest level of drought, now extend into the Triad area of the state.

Forty-seven counties are now in a drought.