Fort Lauderdale Airport Now Sits in Giant Puddle

1-in-1,000-year storm drops record rainfall on South Florida city
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2023 11:15 AM CDT
Fort Lauderdale Airport Now Sits in Giant Puddle
People try and save valuables, wading through high flood waters in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., neighborhood on Thursday, April 13, 2023.   (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Fort Lauderdale may have never seen as much rainfall as on Wednesday when a slow-moving 1-in-a-thousand-year rainstorm "effectively became a stationary front," per the Washington Post. More than 25 inches of rain fell at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport over 24 hours, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service. That's almost double the previous one-day record of 14.59 inches set on April 25, 1979, per the New York Times. It's also more than the monthly total for the wettest April on record (19.47 inches in 1979), per the Post, which notes there's just a 0.1% chance of such a storm occurring in any given year. NWS meteorologist Alex Lamers compared it to "putting a faucet right over Fort Lauderdale, turning it on, and walking away."

Fort Lauderdale sees three inches of rain in April on average. Yet three to four inches fell per hour at times. The NWS warned residents to seek high ground. "This is a life threatening situation," the Miami office tweeted. Footage showed cars stuck in flood waters and a man swimming past a courthouse. "I've lived here my entire life," 49-year-old Dawn Grayson told the Times after a trip to the airport, which had by then closed due to flooded runways. "I've never seen anything like that happen before." There were no initial reports of injury or death. A rare flash flood emergency in effect for a few hours overnight has expired, per the Times. But more rain is expected Thursday. The NWS has warned further localized flooding is possible due to saturated ground. City facilities will be closed until Friday. (More Fort Lauderdale stories.)

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