Torrential storms batter South Florida, close key airport


FORT LAUDERDALE (AP) – A torrential storm bought heavy showers, gusty winds and thunderstorms to South Florida on Wednesday and prompted the closure of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the suspension of high-speed commuter rail service in the region.

Local media outlets reported a flash flood emergency was issued for Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, as nearly a foot (30 centimeters) of rain fell in just hours.

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.”

Wednesday’s relentless showers prompted the airport, one of the largest in the region, to suspend all arriving and departing flights, the airport tweeted around 4:15 p.m.

At around 5 p.m., the airport announced it shut down ground transportation shuttle service in response to recurring tornado warnings and ongoing heavy rainfall.

The main roadways entering and exiting the airport were flooded and impassable, the airport said around 5:15 p.m.

“Please do not attempt to enter or leave the airport at this time,” it warned.

It said airport operations would restart once the weather improves in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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.


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