More Than Two Feet of Rain in Ft. Lauderdale Causes Severe Flooding in ‘1-in-1,000 Year Event’
South Florida was hit with a “1-in-1,000 year” deluge of rainfall this week as a series of storms pummeled the area, causing widespread flooding, stranded vehicles, closed schools and airport shut-downs.
A record 25.91 inches of rain was measured at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport, according to the National Weather Service’s preliminary report, falling in the 24 hour period leading up to Thursday morning.
Ana Torres-Vazquez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said a typical strong hurricane would produce 20 to 25 inches of rainfall over the course of more than one day, reported CNN.
“This amount of rain in a 24-hour period is incredibly rare for South Florida,” Torres-Vazquez said, describing the rainfall as a “1-in-1,000 year event, or greater,” as CNN reported.
This means the chance of it happening in any given year is 0.1 percent.
The average rainfall for all of April in Fort Lauderdale is three inches, and the city hasn’t seen 20 inches of rain in a month for almost 25 years.
South Florida’s historic rainfall followed a low pressure system that developed in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday, causing a warm front to move across southern Florida, reported The Guardian. This was followed by a series of slow-moving supercell thunderstorms.
“The amount of rainfall is unprecedented,” Mayor Dean Trantalis said Thursday, as NBC News reported.
Experts have predicted more extreme weather as the climate crisis wears on.
According to the National Weather Service, another two to three inches of rain fell in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, but after remaining closed for a second day, the city’s airport reopened Friday morning at 9 a.m.
No deaths were reported during the storms, but 900 service and rescue calls were made to the Fort Lauderdale fire department, Trantalis said, and the city reported that about 600 people were moved to shelters.
NBC Miami drone footage of its downtown area showed abandoned cars on dry streets after flood waters had receded.
More than 18 inches of rain hit Hollywood, Florida, during the series of storms, while Dania Beach — located about five-and-a-half miles from Fort Lauderdale — saw more than 17 inches, according to the National Weather Service’s preliminary report.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Broward County on Thursday, and the county government declared a local emergency for Fort Lauderdale, reported NBC News.
Broward County Public Schools remained closed Friday.
“Thus far, we have been able to assess preliminarily $2 million in damages to our schools,” said Valerie Wanza, acting chief of staff for the school district, as NBC News reported. “A lot of it is due to flooding.”
Heavy rain from the historic downpours had stopped by Thursday night, but the Fort Lauderdale area remained under a flood warning until 8 a.m. Friday due to the many roads that remained submerged, the National Weather Service said.
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