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Parts of South Florida could see up to 8 inches of rain

South Florida remains under a flood watch, with downpours already drenching the region and some areas expected to receive as much as 8 inches of rain during this abnormally wet week, forecasters said Tuesday.

Workers in Broward County cleared storm drains to keep roads from flooding, and residents braced for many more days of soggy weather.

About an inch of rain had fallen in South Florida by Tuesday afternoon. And some areas will get a lot more in the coming days, said Shawn Bhatti, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.

South Florida will likely be spared the 4 to 6 inches of rain expected in areas of the state’s southwest coast, in parts such as Collier County, due largely to a low-pressure system hovering over the Gulf. of Mexico.

Still, very heavy rains could also fall on the east coast, Bhatti said.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning Tuesday morning for the entire southern part of the state, which will remain in effect until Wednesday but could be extended. The risk of excessive rainfall is “slight” from Tuesday to Friday and drops to “marginal” on Saturday.

Bhatti also said there is a “marginal tornado threat” for Palm Beach County through Thursday.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue cadets train during a rainstorm on Fort Lauderdale Beach on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue cadets train during a rainstorm on Fort Lauderdale Beach on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Because the Gulf of Mexico weather system was expected to bring heavy rainfall, it was not likely to be the first storm of the season to pass through Florida.

“Environmental conditions are expected to be generally unfavorable, although slow development is possible as the system moves offshore of the U.S. Southeast coast,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Meanwhile, a forecast for the 2024 hurricane season was updated Tuesday with no changes to the outlook for a very active season. Experts from Colorado State University have updated a forecast for the season, which started on June 1 and ends on November 30.

“We have maintained our forecast for an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season in 2024,” the university’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences said online. In April, the university predicted 23 named storms and 11 hurricanes, five of which reached major hurricane status. By comparison, the seasons from 1991 through 2020 averaged 14.4 storms per year, with an average of 7.2 reaching hurricane strength.

In South Florida, forecasters this week warned of the possibility of flash flooding in urban areas, and workers are ready to respond to any emergencies. Broward County spokesman Greg Meyer said the county’s Emergency Operations Center was activated to Level 3 Tuesday morning to “monitor and assess” the weather.

“Everyone is on alert to observe how this weather develops,” he said. The province’s EOC team is “monitoring the weather closely.”

The Level 3 upgrade “gives us that increased level of alertness.”

On Tuesday, the province said it would be proactive to prevent flooding. Crews worked at four locations considered flood-prone and low-lying: Plantation, Pompano Beach and two locations in unincorporated Broward – Boulevard Gardens and Roosevelt Gardens – to clear stormwater drains.

The county has 15,000 storm drains and more than 1.2 million miles of stormwater pipes, so “obviously we can’t clean them all at once,” said Anh Ton, director of Broward’s Highway & Bridge Maintenance Division, which maintains the roads. The pipes carry water from drains to lakes and canals.

“This is how we get water from the road,” says Ton.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue cadets train during a rainstorm on Fort Lauderdale beach on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue cadets train during a rainstorm on Fort Lauderdale beach on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

A vacuum truck goes into the storm drain and then the pipes to pressure wash or suck out the material stuck in the drain.

“This ensures that the pipes are clear, so that rainwater can flow through them,” says Ton. Much of the debris is grass blown into storm drains by landscapers. Waste also has a tendency to clog drains.

Milk containers are fished out. “We’re finding a lot in our storm drains,” he said. The work is absolutely necessary. “If the road is not clear, the water can rise again. Emergency vehicles can’t get through, and if backed up enough, it can back up into people’s front yards and into their homes. We try to prevent that by staying ahead of the rain.”

Neither residents nor city officials want a repeat of the downpours in Fort Lauderdale starting in April 2023. River Oaks was one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

Those whose homes were flooded that day still suffer from PTSD when it rains, said Ted Inserra, president of the River Oaks Civic Association.

“Everyone gets that jolt of panic when it starts to rain,” Inserra said. “The roads flood so quickly. It doesn’t take much.”

River Oaks, a low-lying neighborhood in the middle of a $26 million renovation project, is located east of Interstate 95 and north of State Road 84.

For now, the city has set up pumps throughout the area to help move the water when it rains.

“We rely on the city with their temporary pumps,” Inserra said. “They say these pumps can only handle 4 to 12 inches of rain per day. But the people here, we don’t have much confidence in these pumps. We are still extremely sceptical.”

Fort Lauderdale’s stormwater system is designed with the capacity to convey 3 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, city officials say.

Intensive rainfall can lead to local accumulations on roads or in wadi areas in the short term. Fort Lauderdale is urging motorists and residents to be patient and let the roads and waves clear out.

To report impassable roads, call the Fort Lauderdale Customer Service Hotline at 954-828-8000, [email protected] or fortlauderdale.gov/fixitftl.

In Palm Beach County, the Lake Worth Drainage District is also working with the county’s canals to control groundwater levels.

Tommy Strowd, the district’s executive director, said that because this “prolonged wet situation” follows a very dry May, which led to what he called significant drought in South Florida, the district has a lot of water storage and has not yet done so. . seen that channel levels are rising.

“Unlike what we would do in August or September when conditions are very wet, we had a good start,” he said.

While Strowd said he wouldn’t be surprised if flooding occurred, such as in a parking lot where a drain is clogged, he doesn’t expect to have to respond the same way the district would have to in the event of a tropical storm or a tropical storm. a hurricane, where an area can receive 30 centimeters of rain in 24 hours. This is much more widespread.

“As the rainfall continues and some areas are hit harder than others, we will make adjustments to accommodate this,” he said.

The rain is expected to decrease from Sunday. But until then, people are encouraged to stay indoors if possible and have a way to receive weather alerts and alerts.

Information from the News Service of Florida was used to supplement this report.