Substantial downpours have inundated Fort Lauderdale and parts of South Florida Wednesday night in a once-in-a-half-century rainfall event, leading to a flash flood emergency in Broward County and one mayor calling the deluge the 'most severe flooding that I've ever seen.'
Heavy thunderstorms are moving slowly through the area and could bring in an additional 2 to 4 inches of rainfall.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue posted on Facebook that the city is experiencing flooding in several areas. They warned people to avoid the roads because vehicles could become submerged or stuck.
According to the National Weather Service in Miami, a flash flood emergency, the highest level flood warning, has been issued Wednesday night for parts of South Florida including Fort Lauderdale.
The NWS warned: 'This is an eSPECIALLY DANGEROUS situation.' "Move immediately to higher ground!" warned the NWS. This is a dangerous situation that could be fatal. You should not travel unless there is an evacuation or flood warning.
Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said on CNN that city crews were doing all they could to keep drains free and deploy pumps where possible.
Levy stated that 'we've recorded more than 12 inches of rainfall since midnight. This is on top of consecutive seemingly nonstop days of rain'. The ground was already saturated, so flooding is widespread in our city and South Florida. There are many impassable roads. Many vehicles are stuck in the middle and abandoned on our roads.
I've lived in this area my entire life. He said, 'This is the worst flooding I've seen in my life.
Residents are asked to avoid driving in Fort Lauderdale or travelling this evening.
In a Wednesday evening news release, the city of Fort Lauderdale stated that 'Police and Fire Rescue are continuing to respond to calls for service'. Public Works staff is clearing drains and running pumps as quickly as they can to reduce the water. Traffic congestion has been reduced by prioritizing traffic signals to help individuals leave the city. We ask drivers to avoid Fort Lauderdale and stay off the road until the floodwaters subside.
The city reported that the flooding had a negative impact on rush hour traffic, and caused the tunnel to be closed.
The Henry E. Kinney Tunnel has been closed. Please avoid this area. 'The weather conditions and rush hour traffic have compounded the problems in the downtown area.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has been closed because of flooding that continues in the area.
According to CNN's analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration precipitation statistics, the rainfall totals observed in and around Fort Lauderdale indicate a rainfall event that occurs at least once every 50 years on Wednesday. The rainfall totals were 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, the rainfall totals exceeded 12 inches within 24 hours.
There may have been places that experienced even more extreme rain. According to the NWS's latest flash flood alert in Miami, certain areas could have received as much as 20 inches of rainfall, which is equivalent to a rain event that occurs only once every 200 years.
The preliminary 24-hour rainfall amounts indicate that multiple cities and neighbourhoods are affected. As of Wednesday night, at least 11,09 inches of rainfall had fallen in Fort Lauderdale. Lauderhill received 12,21 inches and Dania Beach 13,92 inches.
Flash floods are in force for central Broward County up until 11 pm EDT.