Rains wash away the worst drought conditions in Deep South

ATLANTA (AP) - Widespread rain is gradually relieving the Deep South's ongoing drought, leaving only a handful of counties in Alabama and Georgia with extremely dry conditions, a new report shows.

Rain drenched a large part of an area that has been abnormally dry, from northern Louisiana to the Carolinas and Virginia, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

About a half-dozen counties in the northeast Georgia mountains and patches of another half-dozen counties in central Alabama are still dealing with extreme drought, the report shows, as are parts of southeast Oklahoma and western Arkansas.

The drought is approaching the one-year mark. Abnormally dry conditions began showing up in March 2016 in parts of the South, and intensified through the spring, summer and fall.

Despite the recent heavy rains, drier-than-normal weather is expected to dominate most of the nation through Monday, forecasters project.

The Drought Monitor, which dates to 1999, is produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.