Storms producing heavy rain batter South Florida, close key airport

A low-pressure system developing in the Gulf of Mexico continues to send bands of showers and thunderstorms ashore along the Gulf Coast, with the threat of heavy rain and isolated tornadoes expected through Friday.

Photos and videos from South Florida show buildings, streets and parking lots flooded by a torrential storm Wednesday. A Flash Flood Emergency was issued for Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, as nearly a foot of rain fell in just hours. 

The flash flooding prompted the closure of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Those near the airport showed floodwater reaching the undercarriage of many vehicles, forcing the airport to close after the reported foot of rain.

Travelers were stranded at the Fort Lauderdale Airport during the closure. Some were even seen wading through the floodwaters outside the airport. 

In other parts of the city, rain very quickly filled up streets and parking lots in Fort Lauderdale.

The risk of flooding extends from New Orleans through the Florida Panhandle and could be enhanced during times of high tide, when drainage is limited due to high sea levels.

"Because of this upper-level low, it is going to end up increasing the winds," FOX Weather meteorologist Jason Frazer said. "And any time you get a low-pressure system, you get that counterclockwise rotation, so there is a chance that we could, unfortunately, see some coastal flooding."

A band of the storms triggered several Tornado Warnings and Flash Flood alerts north of Miami on Wednesday. Cameras captured video of ominous clouds near Dania Beach, but there were no initial reports of any damage.

The FOX Forecast Center said radar indicated between half a foot to an entire foot of rain fell between Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

During the storms, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport announced the temporary closure of exits and entrances due to street flooding. Flights into and out of the airport were also impacted due to the severe weather and some parts of the facility looked more like a lake than an active airport. 

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DANIA BEACH, FLORIDA - APRIL 12: A driver sits in a stalled car in a flooded street on April 12, 2023 in Dania Beach, Florida. Heavy rain passed through the South Florida area causing some area flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Photos from outside the terminal showed passengers wading through water that was around a foot deep, and reported some delays were more than two hours long.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Stephen Gollan urged drivers to stay off the roadways during what is usually busy commute hours due to the flooding and crews responding to emergency calls.

The rain and clouds are expected to keep temperatures in check, with highs expected to be slightly below average for most of the week.

"Even though you may not need the big winter coat, you're definitely going to need the umbrella," Frazer said. "And it's all because we've got some more rain showers that are going to be impacting the Gulf Coast. We do have Coastal Flood Warnings also in effect here as well."

The National Weather Service in New Orleans said where the low develops and tracks will have significant implications on the expected impacts this week. In the New Orleans area, the main concerns at this time are locally heavy rain, widespread marine impacts and significant coastal flooding concerns.


Coastal Flood Warnings and Advisories are in effect for coastal areas of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi. 

The NWS said an inundation of 1 to 3 feet will be possible in the warning areas with minor inundation of 1 to 2 feet possible in the advisory areas. Minor coastal flooding is more likely through Thursday.