With dark skies blanketing much of the region, some areas could see more rain into the evening on Monday, the National Weather Service said. That could put a damper on Halloween trick or treating.
A flood warning has been extended until 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday for east-central Broward County - mainly because so many roads have standing water. Tuesday otherwise is forecast to see mostly sunny skies and breezy conditions.
A flood watch is in effect until 8 p.m. for Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The main reason behind all the rain in the past three days: A slow moving cold front, which is expected to clear out of the area by 8 or 9 p.m. on Monday. Until then the atmosphere will remain unsettled, meteorologist Barry Baxter said.
Officially, the weather service puts the chance of rain at 80 percent for the rest of the afternoon and the evening.
This weekend’s downpours amounted to one of the most prolific rain events in South Florida in the past 11 years.
“It's fair to say that this is the most October rainfall we've received over a three-day period since the 2000 ‘No-name storm’ and 1999 Hurricane Irene,” said weather service meteorologist Robert Molleda.
In the past three days, Fort Lauderdale beach received 12.15 inches of rain, Miami Beach, 11.7. Hollywood 10 and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 6.1.
In Palm Beach County, Palm Beach Gardens received 4.7 inches of rain and Palm Beach International Airport 4.46 inches of rain.
Chuck Lanza, Broward County's emergency management director, said rain washed into 36 homes throughout Broward and that number could rise. Another 50 neighborhoods have water in the streets, he said.
Lanza said he has yet to tabulate an approximate dollar figure.
“We haven’t even thought about that,” he said.
He said several streets in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Oakland Park are flooded and advised drivers to use caution when they see high waters.
"It could stall the vehicles or cause a wake and knock it into the house,” he said.
Weather spotters indicated portions of the Sawgrass Expressway in Tamarac have standing water on all lanes.
Private schools Cardinal Gibbons High School and St. Jerome Catholic School in Fort Lauderdale were closed Monday morning due to severe weather. Broward County public schools are open but are encouraging those who live in severely flooded areas to keep children home.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter at 6 a.m. Monday at Joseph Carter Park, 1450 W. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, for residents displaced by the deluge.
As of 3:30 p.m, 220 people had registered for assistance at the shelter. Cots were being set in the park's gymnasium for people needing a place to stay overnight.
"Most people are coming here to get some food and to figure out what their next move will be," said Red Cross spokeswoman Sofia Santana. "We're anticipating the numbers will increase this evening."
Santana said the city's Dorsey Riverbend neighborhood between Broward and Sunrise boulevards, just east of Interstate 95, appears to be one of the hardest hit by the overnight flooding.
Among those who checked into the shelter was Viola Burgess, 65, who was mopping up water in her family's home at 4am. She said she was at the shelter because all the food she kept in boxes on the floor was ruined.
"I didn't know how to stop it," Burgess said of the rain. "God works in mysterious ways. We need the rain, but we didn't know it was going to be this bad."
The city, meanwhile, dispatched pumper trucks throughout the city to vacuum up flood water from streets and intersections.
"They've been out since very, very early this morning and we will be out throughout the day," said city spokesman Chaz Adams. "There's a pocket in the northwest, there's a pocket in the northeast. They're in the south area. I wouldn't say it's citywide."
Oddly, the heavens open up in the past three days on the heels of the weather service announcing the dry season officially started on Oct. 20.
Even so, it’s not that unusual for South Florida see heavy rains in October because at this time of year it’s fairly easy for cold fronts – and their associated moisture – to make it this far south, Baxter, the weather service meteorologist said.
“In October, we can be very wet,” he said. “If we see this in late November, December or January, then yes, it’s unusual.”
On other hand, Baxter noted that it was a bit odd that South Florida for much of the year was entrenched in a severe and at times extreme drought, only to see three weekends worth of rain suddenly saturate the region.
Baxter said it’s unlikely that South Florida will see another heavy rain episode – at least on the order the current one – for the rest of the winter. The reason is because a weak La Nina has developed. That atmospheric force, better known for nurturing tropical systems in the summer, tends to make this region drier during the winter.
“What we’ve been seeing won’t be the norm for the rest of the dry season,” he said.
Baxter added that another cold front might move through South Florida next weekend, “but it’s not really expected to produce a lot of rain.”
Mike Keefe, a handyman who lives in a first-floor apartment in the Victoria Park neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, was up all night, Sunday into Monday, battling the heavy rain and rising waters.
He used a vacuum pump and lined doors and windows with towels, but by 4 a.m. on Monday, he said the water already was 4 inches deep in his home. He and his son Nate threw their two cats on a bed and put photos and clothing in high places and "abandoned ship."
"It just started coming in so fast, there was no use doing anything more," he said. "I've lived in Fort Lauderdale for 25 years, and I’ve never seen in rain like that. We actually had a couple of tadpoles swimming in our living room this morning."
Keefe estimates his home sustained thousand of dollars in damage, including ruined furniture and wet buckling walls.
Alison Hodge of Pompano Beach, left her home at 4:30 a.m. on Monday to open up Club Sweat, a downtown Fort Lauderdale gym, only to drive into high water on Northeast 19th Avenue at the north end of Fort Lauderdale.
"My car just stopped," he said. "I just stalled there at 4:30 a.m."
Hodge said she sat in her car until a friend rescue her at 6 a.m. Her 2003 Chevy was soaked, as were numerous other cars that stalled on the same street, she said.
Meanwhile, she noted that because it was a trash pick-up day, garbage bags were floating down the street in the flood waters.
"There was trash everywhere, and the smell was horrible," she said.
In Coral Springs, the water was about a foot high on Shadow Wood, allowing Jeremy, 10, to paddle around in a small boat in front of his family's home.
"My son had a blast," said Andrew Ladanowski, Jeremy's father, who runs his own information-technology business.
Ladanowski said was amazed how heavy and how fast the rains came on Sunday.
“That was a lot," he said "I’ve been here 10 years, and I’ve never seen that much rain, not even during Wilma."
Tara Cerreta, of Davie, was trying to park in the lot of her lab at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, on East Cypress Creek Road in Fort Lauderdale, only to discover it had transformed into a lake.
"I didn't know I needed a flotation device to get to the building," she said. To get inside her office, she added "Took my shoes off, rolled my pants up and braved the cold water."
Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Maggie Rose was wading through water up to her shins on Southwest 17th Street at 10 a.m. Monday, when a passer-by in a pickup stopped for her.
She stood on its back bumper and hitched a ride to My Market & Deli on Southwest 17th Street, where she bought bottled water for a nearby family in a stalled Toyota; they had been waiting two hours for a tow truck to arrive.
The Toyota’s occupants said they were grateful for the water. The driver, Antonia Gente, 70, of Fort Lauderdale, said her car had stalled while she was driving her ill sister to Broward General Medical Center for non-emergency surgery.
“I’m still going to the hospital, and hopefully the doctor will understand,” Gente said. “It’s been an ordeal today.”
Diane Jackson, of Davie, received a call not even to attempt to go to work, as an account manager for a welding company in Fort Lauderdale near Broward Boulevard and Interstate 95.
The reason: The road leading to her office was flooded with to 4 feet of water.
"I still went to work," she said. "Bad hair day. What hasn't happened today?"
The rain was almost was bad on Saturday.
Tom Pauletti, of Boca Raton, said the rain flooded the parking lot at Coconut Creek Casino on Saturday afternoon, making it hard to enter the establishment.
"Cars were underwater, and one whole section of the lot was closed off," he said, adding that after getting in, he said he lost $100.
In Hallandale Beach, Public Works Director Hector Castro said more than 4 inches of rain fell, flooding several road "to the point where they were temporarily blocked. Most notably Northeast 10th Avenue between Hallandale Beach Boulevard and Northeast Second Street."
He said there no reports of flooding of homes or businesses flooding over the weekend.
Other than those locations, our new drainage improvements, especially in the Northeast section of the City worked exceptionally well.
The National Weather Service reported that 6 inches of rain dropped on Oakland Park as of early Monday morning.
Tow trucks are hauling off stalled cars in the 2700 block of Oakland Park Boulevard. There are also reports of streets under water throughout Broward, including eastbound Broward Boulevard between Interstate 95 and Andrews Avenue, and parts of Middle River neighborhood.
Tom Clark and Mark Lyons noticed water seeping into their first floor condo in Poinsettia Heights about 3 a.m. The pair were visiting Fort Lauderdale for Halloween from Chicago.
"We put our furniture up on dishes to get it off the ground," Clark said. "We turned bowls upside down."
Gary Novick of Fort Lauderdale was one of many drivers caught by surprise by the floodwaters.
Novick was heading to work Monday morning and driving south on Northeast 15th Avenue just south of the Middle River when his car jumped a median curb and got stuck in the knee-deep water.
"I couldn't tell where I was going," he said.
In Pompano Beach, spokeswoman Sandra King said there have been reports of widespread pooling and flooding throughout the city, mostly on the east side. However, she said there have been no reports of flooded homes.
In addition to the heavy rains, clogged storm grates also contribute to the flooding situation.
“Mulch and other gardening materials will clog the storm grates, which can then cause flooding,” King said, adding that city crews have been responding to calls regarding the clogged grates since Friday.
“It can help tremendously if a homeowner can go out in their own neighborhood, if they clear it themselves, you can possibly avoid a flooding situation,” King said.
"Another complication in the flooding situation is that we are experiencing very high tides which prevent discharge to the ocean," she said.
In Hollywood, areas east U.S. 1 between Sheridan and Moffett had standing water, said Raelin Storey, the city’s spokeswoman.
“The area that seemed to be the worst was around 14th and 15th between Taft and Johnson streets. That is our area that tends to have the issues with flooding,” she said.
Hollywood businesses at the intersection of Sheridan and State Road 7, which was closed off due to flooding over the weekend, said sales were down by as much as 30 percent on Saturday and Sunday.
“Business is dead anyway, it just made it even worse,” said Sunil Ragnauth, manager at that area’s Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Boca Raton experienced minor flooding over the weekend, but none was reported on Monday, Assistant City Manager Mike Woika said.
Flooding was reported near Federal Highway and Northeast 26th Street, Clint Moore Road and Military Trail, Yamato Road and Military Trail and south of Palmetto Park Road near Second Avenue, he said.
No homes were damaged, and flooded areas were cleared within six to eight hours of the reports, Woika said.
Eric Meyers, Broward County’s beach erosion administrator, said he has received no complaints or reports of erosion from the storms. Leanne Welch, beach supervisor for Palm Beach County, said the storms caused little if any erosion.
Insurance agents Monday reported a mixed bag on water-related claims, depending on the areas they serve. Some said they had more claims from roof damage and leaks than from rising waters. Areas most affected included Wilton Manors and Oakland Park, agents said.
“This is the most flood claims we’ve had in a long, long time,” said Dirk DeJong, president of Frank H. Furman Inc. insurance agency based in Pompano Beach. Claims included numerous cars with engines damaged and two warehouses flooded, he said.
At Everglades Electric Supply on Prospect Road in Oakland Park, warehouse owner Leesa Martin said waters reached above her knees Monday morning at her compound. The company spent about four hours pumping water out. “It was like Wilma,” she said, referring to the 2005 storm.
Martin expected more flooding at her warehouse Tuesday, if rain fell as forecast Halloween night. She said her area consistently floods since the nearby highway was raised. “We drain the city,” she said, citing repeated flood claims in the past seven years. “We sit in a pit.”
Heavy rainfall since Friday added to a record-setting October soaking and overwhelmed the ability to move stormwater to drainage canals in particularly low-lying parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to the South Florida Water Management District.
While South Florida’s regional flood control system of canals, pumps and levees operated as expected during the weekend storms – dumping billions of gallons of stormwater out to sea – this much rainfall at once will still leave some roads and homes flooded, according to the South Florida Water Management District.
Problems like a fallen tree clogging a neighborhood drainage canal in Coral Gables and heavy rains coming when high tides limit flows out to sea contributed Monday to backing up the drainage system in flood-prone areas, according to the district.
Drainage canals in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties were lowered in advance of the storm to make more room for the influx of rainfall.
The district’s larger, regional canals handled the water “exactly as you would expect,” but the problem for flooded areas was getting the water to those canals, said Susan Sylvester, director of operations controls for the South Florida Water Management District.
“Water moving to our canals is what has been problematic,” Sylvester said. “A lot of water is still standing.”
This October has been among the top five wettest since regional record keeping began in 1932, water district officials said.
Rainfall totals from Orlando to the Keys made Friday South Florida’s wettest day since Tropical Storm Fay in 2008, according to the water management district.
Standing water in some areas will likely remain for several days, but without the current flood control system that water would be hanging around for weeks, according to the district.
“It’s just a function of the topography and flatness of the land,” said Tommy Strowd, South Florida Water Management District director of operations.
South Florida’s vast network of drainage canals, pumps and levees is intended to guard against flooding of towns and farms built on land that used to be part of the Everglades. It’s usual efficiency at avoiding flooding by dumping stormwater out to sea results in sacrificing water that otherwise could boost drinking water supplies and replenish the Everglades.
If you have photos of flooding, stalled vehicles or storm clean-up, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Writers Taimy Alvarez, Andy Reid, Doreen Hemlock, Rebekah Monson, Tonya Alanez, Juan Ortega, Larry Barszewski, Lisa J. Huriash, Georgia East, Linda Trischetta and David Fleshler and The Miami Herald contributed to this report.