The latest drought monitor map released on Thursday shows the area of exceptional drought in North Carolina has shrunk from 64 counties last week to 39 counties this week. It is important to note this is in no ways a sign the drought is over. Drought conditions continue all across North Carolina, and it's still important for all of us to continue our conservation efforts. Near normal precipitation in February has helped some in our area. However, since January 2007, we are still over 10" behind in our rainfall.