Roving storms yesterday eased a heat wave blamed for more than 1,200 deaths in 24 states and provided Arkansas farmer with prayed-for rains. But Dallas got a 30th straight day of 100-degree heat.

Crops and rangelands in much of the nation's midsection lay in ruins from the heat -- some still in desperate need of rain, others beyond help. Billions of dollars in crops, cattle and poultry have been wiped out by the blistering heat. Food industry officials said prices would rise substantially.

Forecasters disagreed whether the nation had seen the last of the killing heat.

For only the second day this month, temperatures remained in the mid-80s across most of souther Illinois.

Readings were also in the 80s and low 90s across Missouri. The National Weather Service said the cool weather would last most of the week, with the high climbing back toward the 100 mark by the weekend.

Regardless of the rain that cooled the hottest July on record in many areas, the heat continued to take its toll in lives. The heat wave so far has contributed to at least 1,226 deaths in 24 states according to an unofficial count by the Associated Press.

But an indication that the heat wave may be waning was reflected in forecasts for today from the National Weather Service. Except for the desert regions of the Southwest and some sections of Texas, no area was expected to top 100 degrees.