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Catastrophic flood event in Fort Lauderdale after extreme 500 mm (20 inches) of rain in 12 hours, Florida

noaa goes east florida rainviewer 16z april 12 2023 f

A catastrophic flood event hit Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 12, 2013, after extreme 508 mm (20 inches) of rain fell over the region in just 12 hours. Historic rainfall forced National Weather Service to issue a rare Flash Flood Emergency for Hollywood, Dania Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, warning residents a life-threatening situation was unfolding.

  • The event occurred during Florida’s dry season due to a broad area of low pressure over the Gulf of Mexico and a stalled frontal system.

More than 500 mm (20 inches) of rainfall was measured over the Ford Lauderdale region in just 12 hours on April 12. To put this in perspective, the city’s average monthly rainfall for the month of April is 89 mm (3.52 inches), so 500 mm (20 inches) in just 12 hours is more than five times the average April rainfall — making this extreme, historic, and record-breaking rainfall event.

The floods prompted authorities to respond to numerous high-water rescue calls all over the city after many people ended up trapped in their vehicles, homes, and parking garages.

Numerous abandoned cars were seen floating on Broward Blvd and Andrews Ave:

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport suffered severe flooding, forcing airport authorities to cancel all flights and stop roadway traffic at 16:15 EDT (20:15 UTC). At 19:25 EDT (23:25 UTC), the entrance and exit roads to the airport were still flooded and congested with vehicular traffic. Passengers were urged not to enter or leave the airport until the weather improves.

At around 02:00 EDT on April 13 (06:00 UTC), the upper-level roadway at the airport reopened to accommodate travelers waiting for their family or friends to pick them up. However, the entrance to the lower-level arrivals road remained closed.

Flights are not expected to continue until at least 12:00 EDT on April 13 (16:00 UTC).


Broward County Public Schools, among the nation’s largest school districts and encompassing almost the entire Fort Lauderdale region, announced on Wednesday evening that all schools would be shut on Thursday.

More than 12 000 customers — or about 31 200 people — were without power across the state. The number decreased to about 6 600 customers by 03:00 EDT (07:00 UTC).

The record-breaking and historic rainfall mostly subsided by midnight (LT), but the rare Flash Flood Emergency stayed in place into April 13 for areas near Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise, and Lauderhill. Residents were urged to get off the roads and seek higher ground.

YouTube video

A slowly lifting warm front stretching from southern Florida to the Gulf of Mexico along with a developing surface low pressure system lifting northward to the central Gulf Coast is expected to continue producing unsettled weather throughout much of the Southeast into Thursday and Friday, the NWS said.

Gusty winds and heavy rain are expected to progress northward into the central Gulf Coast into early Thursday, associated with the lifting surface low and nearby upper-level closed low anchored over Louisiana.

Ample moisture and scattered thunderstorm activity are anticipated to spread northward through the Southeast and western/central Gulf Coast, with isolated chances for flash flooding. By Friday, the unsettled weather is most likely to swing eastward along the lifting warm front and into the Carolinas, where additional isolated chances for flash flooding exist.

1920z april 12 2023 noaa goes east bg
Image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 19:20 UTC on April 12, 2023

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, Zoom Earth, The Watchers. Acquired at 16:00 UTC on April 12, 2023


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