Updated Nov 17, 2023 - Science

Thousands without power after flooding rains lash South Florida

People try to stay dry amid intense rain that has caused flooding in South Florida.

Pedestrians try to stay dry as rain inundates the area on Nov. 15, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Thousands of customers in Florida were without power Thursday evening after an impactful nontropical storm lashed parts of the state's southeast with hurricane-forced winds and record rainfall that flooded streets in the I-95 corridor overnight.

The big picture: A weather system draped just off the Florida coast was bringing the threat of more heavy rain, gusty winds and "dangerous marine conditions" across the Space Coast region on Thursday, as officials in cities including Miami and Fort Lauderdale responded to flooding the previous night.

  • As of Thursday morning, about 120,000 people were without power in southeastern Florida in the storm's wake. By Friday morning, over 21,000 were without power.

Threat level: "There's a Slight Risk (at least 15%) of Excessive Rainfall Leading to Flash Flooding for the area extending from near Fort Lauderdale up to around Palm Coast where 1-1.5" of rain is likely and isolated maxima of between 3-4"+ are possible," the National Weather Service said in a Thursday evening forecast discussion.

State of play: The Fort Lauderdale area was among the areas inundated over Wednesday night when dozens of flights were delayed due to the severe weather. There were reports of flooded streets and roadways, including at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

  • Broward County Public Schools, located in the Miami metropolitan area, said all schools would be closed Thursday due to the severe storm.
  • High winds generated by the system, which evolved from a group of thunderstorms and strong region of atmospheric spin, rivaled some high-end tropical storms.

By the numbers: Up to 14 inches of rain fell across Key Largo to Fort Lauderdale in two days, the NWS' Weather Prediction Center noted Thursday.

  • Record daily rainfall totals were set in Miami (7.53"), Naples (3.28") and Fort Myers (1.72") on Wednesday. Key West tied the record for rainfall amount for Nov. 15, with 1.07" falling.
  • In Indian River County along I-95 corridor south of Melbourne, rainfall totals of up to 14" were reported.

Meanwhile, wind gusts of up to 86 mph were reported near Key Largo and 75 mph in Miami Beach.

Between the lines: Studies show that climate change is increasing the frequency and magnitude of precipitation extremes, and it's already shifted the odds of such events across the U.S.

What's next: The heavy rain and winds were expected to clear out on Friday.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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