A record-obliterating storm deluged the Fort Lauderdale area on Wednesday, triggering dangerous floods, knocking out power for the city’s main hospital, shutting down a major airport, and turning streets into rivers. The storm dumped more than 25 inches of rain at the airport — a third of the region’s annual rainfall and more than 10 inches more than the previous one-day record.
Even though the storm hit at low tide (a small but meaningful stroke of good fortune) it still leaves brackish floodwaters behind where they will stagnate and almost certainly cause long-lasting damage. “This is worse than any hurricane we have had,” Fort Lauderdale city commissioner Warren Sturman told the Washington Post, adding that thousands of people will likely be displaced by the storm.
Increasingly heavy downpours, facilitated by a warmer atmosphere capable of holding and releasing more moisture, are some of the clearest impacts of climate change. In the case of this event, the intense rain was likely partially fueled by ocean temperatures that are 2 to 3 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. “…no city can prepare for this,” Fort Lauderdale mayor Dean Trantalis told the Washington Post. (Washington Post $, Broward Sun-Sentinel, AP, CNN, USA Today, New York Times $, Miami Herald, USA Today, New Scientist, CNN, Reuters, CBS, Quartz) (USA Today, CNN, Washington Post $, Axios, The Hill, KEYT, WPTV, Axios, Washington Post Photos $; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase)