An Ohio official warned Thursday that drought-stricken state may have to impose statewide water restrictions, and dredging continued in efforts to reopen another section of the Mississippi River blocked by low water.

Farm officials in Ohio appealed for volunteer truckers to haul hay donated by farmers in other states to feed cattle.The Mississippi River remained closed with some 1,200 barges blocked north of Natchez, Miss., where water had been as low as 5 feet, and the Army Corps of Engineers did not expect to have a new channel dredged before Saturday. One-way traffic was moving at Greenville, Miss., and tows of several hundred barges were waiting their turn, the Corps said.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Paul Leonard said Thursday that voluntary water conservation measures were not succeeding.

"Most of the cities we're checking with regularly indicate the program is not paying dividends," Leonard said in Dayton. "My guess is that if the drought continues for another two weeks to 30 days, we're going to need (statewide) mandatory water restrictions."

Georgia's Department of Natural Resources has fined Gwinnett and Cobb counties and told them they must take steps, possibly including round-the-clock bans on outdoor water use, to bring consumption in line with their state permits for withdrawing drinking water. Department Commissioner J. Leonard Ledbetter threatened to take legal action if the counties refuse to sign consent orders.

Thunderstorms developed over the dry northern Plains, and more than an inch of rain fell in western Minnesota near Park Rapids and Hawley. Winds gusted to 80 mph near Langdon, N.D.

Two tractor-trailer rigs from North Carolina were en route Thursday to the Gallia County Fairgrounds in Gallipolis, in southeast Ohio, where hay is desperately needed.