BOSTON (AP) — Drought conditions throughout Rhode Island, the eastern half of Massachusetts and the coastal areas of New Hampshire and southern Maine are now classified as “severe,” the National Weather Service said Thursday.

Much of the rest of New England remains in a moderate drought or is experiencing lower than normal rainfall, according to the agency’s updated drought monitor. Rainfall totals are several inches below normal for this time of year in many parts of the region.

High temperatures are contributing to the drought’s impact, the agency said.

The heat continued Thursday, prompting officials in many communities to advise residents to stay hydrated, avoid the outdoors and check on elderly loved ones. Some areas have also instituted water conservation efforts.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat emergency in the city running Thursday through Sunday. Officials opened 16 cooling shelters throughout Boston to help people avoid the dangerous temperatures.

The Associated Press

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