August 10, 2011 / 7:30 PM / 6 years ago

Heat breaks a little, but storms hit Midwest and South

<p>Alana Coates (L) and Ricardo Briones, both of San Antonio, stand in front of a misting fan and enjoy an icy treat while while enduring the extreme temperatures on a visit to the Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas August 5, 2011.Mike Stone</p>

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The heat began to break and deadly storms came to the Central and Southern plains on Wednesday, as the sweltering bubble of triple-digit temperatures shrank to just over the size of Texas.

Storms in Kansas, eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas brought rain and winds gusts up to 70 miles per hour in some areas in the early hours, according to climatologists.

A tornado killed an 82-year-old woman early Wednesday in northeast Oklahoma as the line of severe thunderstorms swept through the state in the predawn hours.

The body of Beverly Reed was found 50 yards from her mobile home southeast of Locust Grove, Oklahoma, police said.

The tornado "just tore it apart," said Mays County Undersheriff Joe Garrett said of the home. "There wasn't much left."

High winds also knocked out power, uprooted trees and damaged buildings in Edmond, near Oklahoma City.

Officials at the National Weather Service in North Little Rock said several counties in western and central Arkansas had wind gusts of more than 50 mph on Wednesday morning. Some of the storms took down trees and power lines.

The drought-parched region will get another, similar line of storms this evening, forecasters predicted.

Strong storms are also expected in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, all of which have experienced record heat and drought in the recent weeks.

Severe weather on Tuesday killed a UPS driver in Indiana, weather officials said. A driver in Auburn, Indiana died after strong winds knocked a tree onto his truck.

Severe storms brought torrential rain and damaging hail throughout the nation's midsection overnight, according to the weather service. The weather turned moderate and sunny again in Indiana and Nebraska on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, as the mercury in parts of the Southern Plains dipped below 100 for the first time in weeks, Texas and Louisiana remained under heat advisories as the sweltering temperatures continued.

Dallas was expected to hit 107, putting it one more day closer to breaking an all-time record of consecutive triple-digit days by the weekend.

Austin was forecast to hit 102, but breezes and early morning clouds gave residents a brief break from the heat.

Additional reporting by Steve Olafson in Oklahoma City and Suzi Parker in Little Rock; Editing by Greg McCune

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