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    Drought zone increases slightly in state

    The latest US Drought Monitor map, released Thursday.
    US Drought Monitor
    The latest US Drought Monitor map, released Thursday.

    The latest map released by the US Drought Monitor only slightly expands drought designations across Southern New England, in stark contrast to dramatic expansions in recent weeks.

    The portion of Massachusetts suffering from an extreme drought remained at just under 17 percent of the state, while the percentage of the state considered in a severe drought expanded from 64 to 72 percent, according to the latest map, released Thursday.

    The US Drought Monitor is a collaboration of university and government officials.


    The entire state is now suffering from at least the lowest level of dry conditions: abnormally dry weather. Nantucket, the only part of the state to remain in the normal range in past weeks, was given the abnormally dry designation Thursday.

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    The new map also indicated drought conditions in Connecticut and Rhode Island were mostly unchanged. Fifteen percent of Rhode Island and under 5 percent of Connecticut are in a severe drought.

    The release of Thursday’s slightly altered map came after dramatic changes in the past few weeks in Massachusetts.

    Two weeks ago, the map labeled a part of Massachusetts as suffering an extreme drought for the first time since the experts began producing the maps in 1999.

    Last week, it expanded that area to more than 16 percent of the state.


    The state’s Drought Management Task Force will meet again on Sept. 8 to reexamine the dry conditions and recommend what the state should do.

    Globe correspondent Trisha Thadani contributed to this report. Dylan McGuinness
    can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @DylMcGuinness.