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ST. LOUIS- Federal weather forecasters say the drought appears to be leveling off, although it is likely to continue at least through November.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center Forecasters previously had predicted the drought would linger through October.

But the center said Thursday it appears the drought isn't getting worse. Some areas in hard-hit farming states have seen rain in recent weeks.

And meteorologists say they expect conditions to improve in the Southwest and in a band sweeping from South Dakota through a section of Iowa and east to southern Indiana, as well as south to Texas.

Still, the fact that things aren't expected to get worse may be of little solace to Midwest farmers whose crops have already been damaged.

JIM SUHR, AP Business Writer