Even as authorities battle a number wildfires in western North Carolina, the drought in that area has continued to worsen, forming part of a band of dryness that stretches to Alabama.
At this point, 41 percent of the state is abnormally dry or in a drought, new figures released Thursday show.
All the effected counties are west of central North Carolina, and the estimated population effected by the drought is almost 3 million people.
Areas from Asheville to the south and southeast are under an extreme drought, and that is where many the wild fires are occurring.
The five most westernmost counties in North Carolina, near Murphy, are under the highest classification of a drought, an exceptional drought. That exceptional drought continues into north Georgia and northeastern Alabama.
This drought will take months of above-normal precipitation to ease, however, the weather pattern for the next month is showing below normal chances of rain.