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Lower temps, rain bring some relief from drought conditions

Cooler temperatures and rain brought some much-needed relief to the drought-plagued Midwest and South over the past week, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

There was notable improvement in drought conditions from Iowa through Ohio, the report found, and also in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

But the report wasn't all good news. Conditions deteriorated in Oklahoma, where a lack of precipitation and heat parched the state's soil. Parts of Texas and Louisiana also saw worsening drought.

"It was a week of hit and miss," said the report's author, Michael Brewer, with NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Brewer told NBC News that some of the areas in the upper Midwest and around the Great Lakes hit hardest by drought "saw some marked improvement from storms."

"Other folks, such as in the High hit pretty hard (by drought)," Brewer said. The U.S. Drought Monitor's latest map indicates "exceptional drought" in a significant portion of Kansas and parts of Nebraska and eastern Colorado.

The widespread drought is devastating corn and soybean crops, leading to earlier harvests and lower yields. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 87% of corn crop areas and 85% of soybean areas in the U.S. were experiencing drought as of last week.

"That's played out in the markets where the price of corn is going up to record highs," Brewer said.

With the end of crop season nearing, Brewer added that there's no recovery for this year's crops: "The damage has already been done."

 More coverage of the drought:

Drought sends Mississippi into ‘uncharted territory’   

‘Best year ever’ for some farmers outside drought region     

Drought expected to take toll at checkout  

Americans tell their story of #Drought2012  

In drought-stricken Wisconsin, farmers helping farmers   

Emergency well drilling brings relief to farmers stricken by drought

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