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Thunderstorms that drenched parts of Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kansas have provided only "short-term relief" for drought-stricken areas baked by steaming hot weather, the National Weather Service said.

Gentle rain fell early Wednesday morning in Oklahoma, Georgia, northern Louisiana, northeastern Texas and the northern Plains but was tapering off, forecaster Dan McCarthy said. Highs in the Plains were forecast in the 100s Wednesday, he added."The good news is that there has been rainfall," McCarthy said, but added that the long-term forecast is not expected to provide relief beyond continued sporadic outbursts of precipitation.

Showers and thunderstorms were forecast Wednesday from much of New England, through the middle and southern Atlantic states, the central and southern Appalachians, the lower Mississippi Valley and central Gulf Coast into Florida.

Hot weather simmered in the western half of the nation Tuesday, as temperatures soared over 100 degrees in parts of Texas, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and the interior valleys of California, and into the 90s elsewhere in the region.

Showers and thunderstorms stretched from Texas and Louisiana across Arkansas into Mississippi, as well as across Nevada, northwest Florida and from the lower Great Lakes across the central Appalachians into southern New England.

A storm believed to have spawned a tornado raked Pensacola, Fla., toppling trees, blowing down billboards and awnings and shattering windows. At least two people were cut by flying glass - one sitting in a car struck by a falling tree and one inside a fast-food restaurant.

In Texas, high winds described by some witnesses as a tornado damaged a waiting room and smashed windows at the Angelo Community Hospital in San Angelo, injuring one visitor cut by flying glass.

Tuesday marked the 11th straight day of 100 degree-plus temperatures for California's San Joaquin Valley, where Fresno County qualifies as perhaps the nation's richest farm county with annual gross agricultural revenues in excess of $2 billion.

Bakersfield reached 104 and Fresno climbed to 105 while Death Valley hit a sweltering 120. Forecasters said another week of 100-degree weather could be expected.