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Florida Airport Shut Down After Heavy Rain and Flooding

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida, has been shut down following floods, with the airport seeing the highest number of flight cancellations in the country.

The airport said that it is expected to remain closed until at least 12 p.m. on Thursday.

“The airport’s roadways are still closed and impacted by flooding. While stalled vehicles are being removed from the upper/lower levels, the main exit artery remains flooded and congested with slow-moving traffic. We ask for your patience as we wait to safely assess the impacts of this unprecedented rainfall to restore airport operations when it is safe to do so,” the airport said in an April 13 statement.

There were 6,492 flight delays as of 4:19 a.m. ET on April 13, according to FlightAware. Total cancellations stood at 790. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport had the highest number of flight cancellations in both origin and destination airport categories.

Spirit Airlines is the most affected airline with 118 cancellations, followed by JetBlue with 65, Southwest with 60, Lion Air with 41, and British Airways with 36.

“Take a look at the ongoing Flash Flooding in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and at Hollywood International Airport this evening! Almost a foot of rain has covered the runway and tarmac!” weather media outlet Live Storm Chasers said in an April 13 Twitter post with a video depicting heavy waters at the airport.

Flood Situation

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said that two to six inches of rain had fallen in South Florida since the morning. NWS Miami also issued a flash flood emergency alert.

According to meteorologist Tucker Antico, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport received 22.59 inches of rainfall between 3 and 10 p.m. on April 12, which he called “easily one of the wildest mesoscale weather events I’ve seen.”

Meteorologist Bob Henson called the rainfall in the region a record. If confirmed, the preliminary total of 22.59 inches of rainfall in just seven hours at Fort Lauderdale would obliterate the city’s rainfall record for any three calendar days, including the 18.24 inches of rainfall recorded between Oct. 19 and 21 in 1924, he said in an April 13 Twitter post.

Several videos are circulating on social media showing regions in Fort Lauderdale underwater. In one video, cars can be seen half sunk as water floods the streets.

“Multiple neighbors’ houses in Fort Lauderdale are currently flooding. Cars underwater. Another neighbor’s back porch just collapsed. Now more tornado warnings in the area. What is going on?! Check out video of neighbor’s house … all from rain,” ESPN NFL reporter Jeff Darlington said while posting a video of a flooded home.

Alerts and Warnings

The NWS has issued a flood watch alert effective until 7 a.m. ET on April 13. Portions of South Florida, including Coastal Miami-Dade, Metro Miami-Dade, Metro Broward, and Coastal Broward could see flooding caused by excessive rainfall through the evening.

Excessive runoff can cause flooding in the rivers, streams, creeks, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations, the weather agency stated.

“Periods of heavy rain will once again be possible through this evening. While showers and storms will be less widespread compared to yesterday, any additional rainfall over already saturated areas can lead to continued flooding concerns, especially for poor drainage locations.”

Fort Lauderdale has activated the city’s Emergency Operations Center. The city is also in the process of issuing a “Proclamation of Local State of Emergency.” It has secured airboats and high-clearance buggies which are expected to support rescue operations.

“Staff is assessing park facilities to convert them to staging/reunification centers for individuals impacted by the flash floods. We expect to open these as soon as possible,” the city said.

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