Rain soaked the drought-stricken Plains Thursday, but the governor of Alabama's prayers for precipitation were not immediately answered, and forecasters remained gloomy about prospects for an end to the nation's dry spell.

"It's likely to get worse before it gets better," Michael Hudlow, director of hydrology for the National Weather Service said as long-range forecasts were released Wednesday.Showers and thunderstorms fell Thursday over much of the central Plains, and rain was widely scattered over much of the high Plains and the lower and middle Mississippi Valley.

Americans who prayed or danced for rain in recent weeks got it in spades in some places Wednesday.

In North Platte, Neb., more than 2 inches of rain fell in about 90 minutes, flooding city streets, caving in the roof of a downtown business and causing at least $25,000 damage to a hotel, authorities said. A tornado touched down near the city, but no injuries were reported.

Springfield, Mo., received more than 31/2 inches of rain Wednesday, more than double the record set on the date in 1905, the weather service said. Nearly 5 inches deluged Wilsey, Kan., 60 miles southwest of Topeka, and Hill City, S.D., got 2 inches.

But the weather service issued an advisory Wednesday saying the nation's driest areas remained basically unchanged.