Florida’s major cities battered by heavy rains, flooding

by | Dec 18, 2023

  • Florida experienced a powerful storm system causing torrential rains and flooding across major cities like Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami, disrupting municipal operations and affecting thousands.
  • The National Weather Service reported up to 5 inches of rain in some areas, leading to significant street and neighborhood flooding, with advisory warnings stretching from the southwest Gulf Coast to Jacksonville.
  • More than 150 flights were delayed at Miami International Airport, while Tampa Bay experienced storm surges up to 3 feet, and Jacksonville’s Craig Airport recorded a record-breaking 3.48 inches of rain.
  • In response to the storm, which brought 2 to 5 inches of rainfall across North and Central Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida State Guard and directed state agencies to prepare for immediate response and recovery.

A powerful storm system brought torrential rains and widespread flooding to Florida’s major cities this weekend, including Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami disrupting municipal operations and impacting thousands of residents.

The National Weather Service reported that some areas of the state received up to 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain, causing significant flooding in streets and neighborhoods. Flood warnings were issued across the state, stretching from the southwest Gulf Coast to Jacksonville.

In Miami, streets were transformed into waterways, with vehicles struggling to navigate rising waters. The inundation led to the cancellation of boat parades and other winter events, as local authorities urged residents to exercise caution.

“As we continue experiencing heavy rain and winds, stay off roads unless absolutely necessary,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue stated on X.

More than 150 flights were delayed at Miami International Airport on Saturday, just days after the city announced it was anticipating its busiest holiday travel season on record.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm system produced storm surges up to 3 feet in the Tampa Bay region, including St. Petersburg. Rainfall measurements varied across the region, with Brooksville receiving 3.29 feet, Tampa 3.02 feet, and lesser amounts in Sarasota/Bradenton and Clearwater.

“Storm surge flooding right now in Tampa is the 4th highest on record,” said meteorologist Bryan Bennett. “Sea water height is peaking right now at 3.39 ft. Hurricane Idalia peaked at 4.18 ft.”

In northeast Florida, the National Weather Service reported that Craig Airport in Jacksonville received 3.48 inches of rain, breaking a previous daily rainfall record. Flood watches were issued for all areas of the region, as well as southeast Georgia.

“Floridians should prepare now for strong wind gusts this weekend due to impacts from the Gulf Low system,” the Florida Division of Emergency Management stated on Friday in anticipation of the storm’s movement pattern.

In total, 2 to 5 inches of rainfall fell across portions of North and Central Florida, from the eastern Florida Panhandle through the I-4 corridor.  The heaviest swath of rainfall occurred over the Suwannee River Valley/Northeast Florida and central portions of the Space Coast (Brevard County into southeastern Orange County), where 4-8” of rainfall was observed.

In anticipation of the storm, Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the Florida State Guard and directed all state agencies to prepare resources to provide immediate response and recovery resources.

“As many Florida residents in the Big Bend and Nature Coast experienced flooding from the recent severe weather that has impacted the area with heavy rain and winds, it is vital that residents heed all warnings from state and local officials as first responders work to clear roads and ensure safety,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.


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