Florida flood threat: Double-digit rainfall totals possible



The risk of dangerous flooding is rising across South Florida, where torrential rain will push through major metro areas – some of which have already received several inches of rain this week – and more than 7 million people are under flood watches.

Heavy rain will continue to deluge the southern portion of the state through at least Thursday morning as an area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico is drawing abundant tropical moisture north.

Southeast Florida faces the brunt of the blow, with rainfall totals expected to approach double digits. Areas around Fort Lauderdale, Miami and southwest into the Florida Keys could see 48-hour rainfall totals approach 10 inches.

A moderate risk of excessive rainfall – level 3 out of 4 – is in place on Wednesday for southeast Florida. Rainfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour are possible in the heaviest downpours, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

A bout of heavy rain already drenched some areas on Tuesday, priming the region for trouble ahead of the more widespread event Wednesday and Thursday. This has left the ground with less ability to absorb excess water, thereby increasing the flood threat.

Portions of Palm Beach County and Broward County – where Fort Lauderdale is located – saw 3 to 6 inches of rain on Tuesday and stand to get an additional 8 to 10 inches through Thursday. Three-day rainfall totals in excess of a foot are not out of the question in these areas.

Fort Lauderdale has already had an abnormally wet year, and this week’s rain will likely be enough to push the city into record territory. As of Wednesday morning, the city had recorded 100 inches of rain this year, just shy of its wettest year on record – 102.36 inches in 1947.

The torrential rainfall rates and accumulation totals through Thursday across southeastern Florida will lead to “a higher probability of flash flooding concerns within the urban corridor down into the Florida Keys north of Marathon,” according to the Weather Prediction Center.

Saturated ground and ongoing king tides could slow the water from receding in coastal communities that flood this week.

CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam contributed to this report.

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