Nearly a foot of rain fell in a matter of hours in Fort Lauderdale — causing widespread flooding, the closure of the city’s airport, the shuttering of schools and the suspension of high-speed commuter rail service for the Broward County region.
The city of Fort Lauderdale released a statement Wednesday evening urging residents and visitors to stay off the roads until the water has subsided.
“Police and Fire Rescue continue to answer calls for service,” the statement said. “Public Works staff are clearing drains and operating pumps to mitigate the water as quickly as possible.”
Broward County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the nation — and which serves nearly all of the Fort Lauderdale area — announced late Wednesday that all its schools would be closed Thursday.
Wednesday’s relentless showers prompted the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to suspend all arriving and departing flights beginning at around 4:15 p.m. Eastern time. Late Wednesday night, the airport tweeted that it would likely remain closed until at least noon on Thursday.
“The airport’s roadways are still closed and impacted by flooding,” the airport said in a statement.
Up to 14 inches of rain had fallen across the area through Wednesday and the National Weather Service said another 2 to 4 inches were possible as a warm front continued to push northward, bringing a chance of thunderstorms.
More than 12,000 customers in Florida were without electricity Wednesday night, according to PowerOutage.us.
The heavy rains also prompted South Florida’s high-speed commuter rail service to shut down. Brightline posted on Twitter Wednesday evening that train service between Miami and Fort Lauderdale was suspended.
The National Weather Service in Miami declared a flash flood emergency around 8 p.m. Wednesday for Fort Lauderdale, along with the areas around Hollywood and Dania Beach. A short time later, forecasters issued a tornado warning for nearby Davie, Plantation and Lauderhill.
The service also issued a flash flood emergency for Fort Lauderdale and other areas will run into pre-dawn hours Thursday as the chance of thunderstorms continued across the region, warning: “This is a life-threatening situation. Seek higher ground now!”
to say the emergency will run into pre-dawn hours Thursday as the chance of thunderstorms continued across the region.
Video taken by witnesses showed water coming in the door at an airport terminal and a virtual river rushing down the tarmac between planes.
On Broward Boulevard, a man was seen swimming to the curb on the flooded street at rush hour as cars rolled by.
Drivers recorded themselves rolling through streets where brown, swirling water was up to the wheel wells or nearly to the hood of cars.
There have been no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.