Phillips County, Arkansas on Sept. 28, 2019. Southern Arkansas is experiencing abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein via Getty Images

High temperatures and fast-acting dry spells in the South reported last week have boiled over into a "flash drought" blasting 56 million people with dry heat, AP reports.

What's happening: Parts of Georgia, Texas, Alabama and South Carolina are currently in extreme drought zones, while most of the South is in an abnormally dry or moderate to severe drought. Farmers are concerned "that cattle, cotton and corn are suffering after a summer of record highs and very little rain," per AP.

  • Rain in the Southeast became scarce approximately 10 weeks ago, the New York Times reports.
  • Most fields in affected states — like Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and West Virginia — are in either poor or very poor condition, according to the latest crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What's next: The monthly U.S. drought outlook indicates the drought is expected to persist through October in most affected states.

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