La Niña is expected to prolong the South’s drought, but Arkansas, northern Louisiana and northeastern Texas may see some improvement before the end of April, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the drought map released Jan. 27, parts of Arkansas roughly south and southwest of a line drawn from Texarkana to Hope to El Dorado are shown as extreme drought, as are areas east of U.S. 63 in northeastern Arkansas. Most of the state is listed as being in severe drought, with areas northwest of a line approximately from Mammoth Spring to Mena being shown as either abnormally dry or in a moderate drought.

The good news is that the seasonal outlook through April 20 shows some improvement for all by the extreme northwest corner of the state.

However, there’s an undercurrent of worry for farmers and foresters.

“Several of our crop farmers have expressed concern about how quickly we could get into a severe drought situation if this pattern continues into spring,” said Randy Chlapecka, Jackson County Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “While we could probably expect enough rain to give us adequate moisture for germination and emergence, when those plants start growing and developing, their moisture requirements would quickly deplete what soil moisture was out there.”

Despite Tuesday’s precipitation, “one rain won’t be enough to eliminate our concerns,” Chlapecka said. “We’ll still be well below normal since mid-July.”

The weather has been tough on the state’s trees, as the 2009 moisture surplus was depleted by late summer 2010.

“We’ve seen a lot of dead trees this past fall and winter, after our hot, dry 2010,” said Tamara Walkingstick, associate director-Arkansas Forestry Resources Center for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “We’ll see even more trees die if we go into the spring with inadequate moisture, which sets up another issue in potential wildfires.”