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Heavy rains in South Florida cause major flooding

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

South Florida is preparing for another day of heavy rains. It comes after more than 2 feet of rain fell in some areas, flooding communities from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It's the kind of rain Floridians expect from a tropical storm or hurricane, but this weather system isn't tropical. Even so, forecasters warned people to be ready for significant flooding. Still, in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, many motorists found themselves stalled out in rising floodwater.

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DANIEL LABATON: I mean, all these cars are abandoned. It looks like people had to get out of their trunk right there.

ALLEN: Daniel Labaton (ph) waded through thigh-deep water and posted on social media a video of some of the flooding in the city of Aventura. In another video shared widely on social media, a Florida man riding a surfboard is pulled through the floodwaters by a pickup truck. The heavy rains Wednesday delayed operations at airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, leading to the cancellations of hundreds of flights. Flooding forced the shutdown of train lines and the temporary closure of Interstate 95. The rain let up in many areas today, but Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava held a news conference to warn residents that more is on the way.

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DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA: We're seeing flooding across many low lying and urban areas and areas particularly with poor drainage. We want residents to know to stay safe, to stay inside, to avoid flooded areas and to remain vigilant.

ALLEN: In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, temporary pumps and vacuum trucks were sent to the worst areas. But with more rain coming, Levine Cava said the flooding likely isn't over.

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LEVINE CAVA: It will not take much time to exacerbate the saturated conditions in the hardest-hit areas. So, unfortunately, that water is not being fully absorbed, and additional rains will lead to more flooding.

ALLEN: Although this low-pressure system isn't tropical, it's being closely watched by the National Hurricane Center, which has designated it as Invest 90. That's because after it passes over Florida, into the Atlantic, there's a chance it could strengthen into a tropical storm or hurricane. University of Miami meteorologist Nkosi Muse says the system is being fueled by above average water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

NKOSI MUSE: Having that warm water is absolutely conducive to a lot of these storms and influencing them and giving them more power as they move over land. And that's exactly why we're seeing this Invest 90 system as it moves back over into the water and has a chance of developing into something greater.

ALLEN: Muse says, with warming ocean temperatures from climate change, wet, slow-moving storms like this one are becoming increasingly common. This week, flooding comes at the beginning of a hurricane season that NOAA predicts will be busier than usual, with as many as 25 named storms and 13 hurricanes. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Greg Allen
As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.