A tropical depression sloshed ashore Monday on the upper Gulf Coast with gusty winds and heavy rain but caused little stir, while rain dampened the East Coast and lightning struck four people in Florida, killing two men.
Meanwhile, a heat alert was issued in the sweltering Southeast.
In Florida, lightning struck and killed two men on the beach at Fort Myers Beach during severe thunderstorms. A woman and a 4-year-old girl also were struck while on Fort Myers Beach, but escaped serious injury because they were not hit directly, said Lee County Sheriff's Lt. Rod Shoap.
Authorities said a 17-year-old girl apparently went into shock when she saw the lightning strike the victims.
A tornado touched down briefly Monday night at Brooksville, Fla. However, no damage or injuries were reported.
No serious damage was reported as the tropical depression moved inland, and the National Weather Service canceled tropical storm warnings for coastal sections of Texas and Louisiana. The tropical depression did produce strong thunderstorms and showers with heavy rain over much of Louisiana and southeast Texas.
More than 5 inches of rain had fallen in southwest Louisiana as of Monday morning with 5 more inches expected by the end of the day, the weather service said. But flood and flash flood watches posted for much of southwest Louisiana and east Texas expired by Monday afternoon. The tropical depression, centered about 50 miles northwest of Beaumont, Texas, at 5 a.m., weakened as it moved northward. It never reached tropical storm strength.
'It's all clear,' said Coast Guard fireman Tony Stocks at the Sabine Pass station, on the Texas-Louisiana stateline. 'Tides are about a foot higher than normal, but there are no problems.'
The tropical depression created choppy seas as it moved over the Gulf, tossing a woman off an aluminum fishing boat about 180 miles south of Galveston, Texas, Sunday morning. The search for the woman, who was not identified, continued throughout Sunday but was later suspended, authorities said.
Elsewhere, morning rainshowers extended over parts of New England and from the upper Ohio Valley to New Jersey. A flood warning was issued early Monday morning for Mercer County of west-central New Jersey, where up to 3.75 inches of rain had fallen.
Showers and thunderstorms were scattered over much of Florida, from Georgia to eastern Virginia, North Dakota and from eastern New Mexico across the Texas Panhandle to northern Alabama.
Nearly an inch and a half of rain fell in one hour at Abilene, Texas, and a flash flood watch was in effect for the southern third of New Mexico until Tuesday morning.
One of the thunderstorms briefly became severe and blew down a carport and destroyed some sheds in Luella, Texas, while strong winds damaged trees and caused power outages in Warner, Robins and Centervile, Ga.
Slow moving thunderstorms dumped 1.39 inches of rain at Payson, Ariz., in an hour, while dime-size hail fell and covered the ground and winds gusted to 50 mph near Bowbells, N.D. Winds of 61 mph were reported at the Cody, Wyo., airport.
In the Southeast, the relentless summer heat wave prompted the Alabama Department of Public Health to issue a heat alert for Birmingham and all counties to the south.
Jim McVay, director of health promotion and information for the department, said heat index predictions above the 105-degree mark prompted health officials to call the alert to encourage heat awareness and discourage outdoor activities during the daylight hours.
'During the heat of the day, people should curtail vigorous activities, such as working in the yard,' McVay said. 'They should do this type of activity in the cooler part of the morning' or in the 'extremely late afternoon.'
The steamy temperatures once again shattered record highs in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Those included readings of 101 degrees in Macon, Ga.; 100 in Augusta and Savannah, Ga., which broke the previous high for the date of 98 set 91 years ago; 99 in Charleston, S.C.; and 98 in Apalachicola, Fla., and Beaufort, S.C.