Heavy Rains Batter South Florida, Closing Roads and Grounding Flights


Heavy rains battered South Florida on Wednesday, closing major roads, stranding vehicles, forcing delays and cancellations at airports and causing flash flooding in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas.

The severe weather, which began on Tuesday, is the result of a cold front “parked” over parts of the state that has dumped more than 10 inches of rain in some areas, Anthony Reynes, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said Wednesday afternoon.

Flash flooding has been reported from Fort Lauderdale to downtown Miami, he added, noting that major urban areas, including some homes, had been inundated with water, and that many vehicles had been stranded. As of Wednesday evening, more than 10 inches of rain had fallen in Hollywood, Fla., more than nine inches in Fort Lauderdale, and about eight inches in Miami, Mr. Reynes said.

The Weather Service had not received any reports of injuries or deaths, he said.

Part of Interstate 95 was shuttered in Broward County because of the flooding. Hundreds of flights at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport were either delayed or canceled, according to flightaware.com. Roadways at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport could also become inundated, the airport warned. Footage posted to social media appeared to show swamped shopping strips and cars submerged in the floodwaters, including at an indoor parking lot.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida declared a state of emergency in Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, and Sarasota counties. The declaration gives emergency managers the authority to allocate resources, including personnel, to respond to the flooding and other impacts of the severe weather.

Mayor Dean J. Trantalis of Fort Lauderdale said on social media that resources were being mobilized across the city. “If possible, please avoid driving,” he said. “It’s crucial to never attempt to drive through high water.”

The City of Fort Lauderdale said in an email Wednesday night that it had responded to “multiple stranded vehicles” and that several city roads were impassable. Flood warnings will continue through Thursday morning, the city said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Weather Service issued its highest level of warning, a flash flood emergency, for a stretch spanning from North Miami to Dania Beach. “The amount of rain that was falling was quickly overwhelming the drainage systems,” said Mr. Reynes, the meteorologist. “It was becoming a life-threatening situation.”

Like the cars of a train, storm after storm moved from the west coast to the east coast of the southern Florida Peninsula on Wednesday, soaking an area already saturated from the rain.

Forecasters warned that the line of storms was slowly meandering to the south, and expected rain to continue into the evening in areas already under flash flood warnings, including Miami. One to three inches of rain could continue to fall per hour.

Excessive rain is forecast again on Thursday across southern Florida, though exactly where the heaviest rain will fall isn’t certain. Considering the amounts that fell Wednesday, and the repetitive nature of the rainstorms, forecasters from the Weather Prediction Center said that more flash flooding was possible late Thursday morning through the afternoon.





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