Fort Lauderdale: Severe flooding in Broward County facing record rainfall

(CNN) Fort Lauderdale’s wettest day in its history Wednesday — a 1-in-1,000-year rainfall event — triggered a flash flood emergency in Broward County that prompted emergency rescues, forced drivers to abandon cars, closed schools and Airport closed to 9 a.m. on Friday. And it’s raining.

More than a foot of rain was reported in the area, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service office in Miami.

Two weak tornadoes hit Broward County on Wednesday, one west of Hollywood and one south of the Fort Lauderdale airport, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. Both are short-lived and rated EF-0, the weakest category.

The city of Fort Lauderdale said Thursday evening that heavy rains on Thursday caused more flooding.

A flash flood warning for southern Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines and Hollywood, has been extended until 9:30 p.m., the National Weather Service said.

The service reported 2 to 3 inches of rain across the warning area Thursday afternoon. An additional 1 to 3 inches is possible, especially south of Fort Lauderdale near Hollywood.

According to a Thursday morning update from the National Weather Service office in Miami, 14 to 20 inches of rain has drenched the greater Fort Lauderdale metro area since Wednesday afternoon. One mayor said the deluge was “the worst flood I’ve ever seen”.

Drivers try to navigate flooded roads in Fort Lauderdale Thursday morning.

“This amount of rain in 24 hours is incredibly rare in South Florida,” said Ana Torres-Vasquez, a meteorologist with the Weather Service’s Miami forecast office.

The 20 to 25 inches of rainfall is similar to what the area could receive from a high-level hurricane over one day, Torres-Vazquez explained. He described the rainfall as “a 1 in 1,000 year event or more”. Meaning This is a very serious event, with a mere 0.1% chance of occurring in any given year.

During the peak of the deluge on Wednesday, a month’s worth of rain fell in an hour. Fort Lauderdale’s average April rainfall is 3 inches, and the city has seen 20 inches of rain in a month for nearly 25 years.

Cars are parked on a flooded street in Tania Beach, Florida, Wednesday.

More precipitation is a signature result of a warming climate, and it’s happening more often. Last year’s flooding in South Florida was 1 in 1,000 years. Dallas, St. Louis, Eastern Kentucky And Yellow stone.

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“Although the heavy rains have ended, many roads remain closed,” the weather service said, adding that flooding is expected to continue.

Earlier, Fort Lauderdale was “experiencing severe flooding in many areas of the city,” Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue said on social media, warning vehicles to stay off roadways as they could become trapped or drown.

A Flash flood emergency — A flood warning in effect for parts of South Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, expired early Thursday morning.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was closed Thursday due to heavy rain.

City crews in Hollywood, Florida, are “doing everything they can” to keep drains clear wherever they can use pumps, Mayor Josh Levy told CNN.

“We’ve recorded 12 inches of rain since midnight, on top of days of non-stop rain,” Levy said. “There is extensive flooding in our city and across South Florida as the ground is already saturated. Many roads are impassable. Numerous vehicles are stranded and abandoned in the middle of our roads.

“I’ve lived here all my life. This is the worst flood I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Several state agencies and emergency resources are assisting with the flood situation, according to a news release from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Broward County on Thursday.

In Fort Lauderdale, airboats and high-clearance vehicles were secured from the county sheriff’s office and Florida Wildlife Commission as authorities activated their emergency operations center, they said in a statement early Thursday.

Fort Lauderdale city officials said emergency crews continued to work through the night responding to rescue calls across South Florida.

City Hall was closed Thursday and will remain closed Friday, officials said.

City officials are asking residents to be patient as “flood conditions will affect the southern portions of the city this morning.”

“We expect the flood to recede in the next few hours and there has been improvement in some parts of the city,” officials said.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue crews received 900 calls for service overnight during the flooding, according to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. Police and fire crews were still responding to calls for service, the city said Thursday evening. About 600 people were taken to shelters, the city said.

People try to save valuables in a neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Thursday, April 13, 2023.

According to the mayor, the Broward Sheriff’s Office assisted the agency with over 300 rescue calls received during the historic flooding event.

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“There is no part of this city that is unscathed,” Trantalis said.

Officials asked residents to avoid driving or traveling in Fort Lauderdale amid the storms.

“Public works crews are clearing drains and running pumps to quickly reduce the water. Efforts have been made to reduce traffic congestion with a prioritized signal to assist people leaving the city. We ask drivers to stay off the roads and avoid the city of Fort Lauderdale until the water recedes,” City of Fort Lauderdale said in a press release on Wednesday evening.

“Because there is so much water, most areas have to drain naturally,” Drantalis said. “Crews are working to clear storm drains to help drain water from neighborhoods. Vacuum trucks are being deployed strategically throughout the city.”

The Florida Highway Patrol has closed several exits on Interstate 95 in Fort Lauderdale, according to the city’s fire department.

Drivers battled standing water on Fort Lauderdale roads Thursday morning.

In Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, officials are working on two water main breaks, According to to the Coral Gables Police Department.

Some roads in the city are closed due to flooding and others have limited travel, forcing residents to allow extra time to get to work, police said.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday that it has been “inundated with non-emergency 911 calls related to severe weather” and is urging residents to use 911 only for “true emergencies” and to avoid driving and call a tow truck. Company if a vehicle is stranded and not in an emergency.

Some local services are closed on Thursday. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is closed due to flooding and will reopen at 9 a.m. Friday. According to an update From the airport.

In this aerial view, cars drive through flooded streets after rain on April 13, 2023 in Hollywood, Florida.

Brightline train service between Miami and Fort Lauderdale was temporarily suspended. Service said On social media. It was recovered on Thursday.

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Additionally, Broward County Public Schools announced a second day of district closures Friday.

“No city could have planned for this,” Trantalis said.

Trantalis says he has spoken to the White House and Senator Marco Rubio about the situation.

The mayor said, “DeSantis hasn’t called yet, but I’m sure he’s very interested in what’s going on here.”

Caught in a flood

Mandi-Lynn Guertin flew with her friends to Fort Lauderdale for a three-day country music festival starting Friday.

The group flew in from Connecticut and had never experienced weather like this, Gurdin told CNN.

Their rental car died in about 3 feet of water and the water filled up so fast that they had to leave it on the side of the road.

“We can’t leave our Airbnb because the flood waters are so high and no Ubers will come to get us,” Guertin said.

The street in front of Mandi-Lynn Guertin’s Airbnb in Fort Lauderdale Thursday.

Guertin and her friends were back home working with emergency services but Wednesday night, the rapid nature of the flood scared them, she said.

“Southern hospitality and helping your ‘neighbor’ is really a thing here and I couldn’t be more grateful today,” he wrote on Facebook. “So many strangers did so much for us tonight.”

For now, the group plans to wait in their Airbnb, without much choice, until the water runs low enough so they can attend the music festival tomorrow, which hasn’t been canceled yet.

Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga music festival, Festival of the Ocean, will “move forward” as planned, despite flooding in the city, according to event organizers.

Dan Grayson FORT LAUDERDALE — Lives 20 minutes from Hollywood International Airport and got stuck on his way home Wednesday.

Dawn waited for the floodwaters to recede from Grayson’s car to her home.

Grayson was trapped in his car for hours while he waited for the floodwaters to recede, he told CNN.

“Parking garages were flooded, vehicles were stuck,” Grayson said. “We were stuck in our vehicle for 5 hours on Terminal Road.”

CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Brandon Miller, Robert Shackelford, Derek Van Dam, Sara Weisfeldt, Tina Burnside, Devon Sayers and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.

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