At least eight deaths in three states have been blamed on heavy rains and high winds that pounded the Midwest yesterday for the second straight day, bringing flash floods over a wide area.

Tornado and flood warnings were issued in parts of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

The bodies of four young men were found in a cave near Branson, Kan. Authorities said they apparently were victims of a flash flood.

Driving conditions were hazardous throughout the Midwest as rains continued to fall from Iowa and Kansas east to Michigan. Three traffic deaths in the Chicago area and one in St. Louis were blamed on the weather.

As cold air moved south overnight, winter storm warnings were issued for parts of Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota and the Nebraska Panhandle.

Heavy snow was expected through tonight in the Colorado, mountains.

Thunderstorms and heavy showers resulted in flash flood warnings and watches for southeast Missouri and parts of Texas, Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana. Flash flood watches also were posted for Mississppi and Tennessee.

The thunderstorms extended from eastern Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley and into Kentucky. Showers also were reported in Michigan and the central Appalachians, and rain and snow fell in scattered areas of the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies.