Rain-weary South Floridians await sun after days-long deluge


Five counties and numerous cities remained under a state of emergency Friday

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) - Nearly a week of torrential rainfall appeared to be winding down in South Florida on Friday after a slow-moving weather system dumped more than two feet (0.6 meters) of precipitation in the Everglades and a foot or more in parts of populous Miami-Dade County.

With the storm pushing out to sea on Friday, the region was under threat of more flooding, which had already sporadically forced the closure of major roadways. Five counties and numerous cities remained under a state of emergency.

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The skies were expected to drop another one to two inches of rain, including on North Miami Beach, which experienced more than 20 inches as of Friday morning, said William Churchill, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

"They don't need any more," Churchill said. "Quite a few areas saw over a foot of rain. But this is really the final day of it."

Reuters - Aerial flood shot Florida - June 13

A woman wades through the flooded streets in Hallandale Beach, Florida, U.S. June 13, 2024. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona

The storm, drawing its strength from warm Gulf and Atlantic waters, hit the west coast of the peninsula on Monday and reached the east coast on Tuesday. It then stalled, bringing a deluge that has not let up for days.

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Social media images showed numerous stalled cars in flooded roadways, people wading in hip-deep waters and others paddling small boats and kayaks down suburban streets that resembled canals.

The heaviest rain fell in the Everglades, with almost 28 inches in the Big Cypress National Preserve, Churchill said. Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County just north of Miami, got 14 inches.

After about 175 storm-related calls on Wednesday including 35 water rescues from people stuck in cars, rescue calls virtually dried up overnight Thursday into Friday, Broward County Battalion Fire Chief Michael Kane said.

"We were blessed that this is coming to an end," he said.

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Even though rain is expected to taper off, officials said the risk of flooding persisted across an area where about 7 million people reside.

“Don’t be deceived by the sun peeking out from the clouds,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Frank McGurty and Rod Nickel)