HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Montana officials say nine counties have reached severe drought status and 11 more are under a drought alert.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney is chairman of the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee. He says the region has had two years of low snowpack, early runoff and little moisture under the soil.

Department of Natural Resources and Conservation officials say the severe drought status prompts state agencies to take action in those counties under the Montana Drought Response Plan.

The counties in severe drought are Teton, Lewis & Clark, Powell, Missoula, Sweet Grass, Stillwater, Carbon and Yellowstone.

The seven counties put on alert status Thursday are Broadwater, Jefferson, Silver Bow, Granite, Mineral, Park and Big Horn. Glacier, Pondera, Carter and Sanders counties were previously on drought alert.

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