Severe thunderstorms could hit Northeast; more flooding in South Florida still possible

Updated

Severe thunderstorms could plague areas of the Northeast and Midwest Saturday and more flooding could happen in Florida, already deluged by a low-pressure system that brought record-breaking rainfall across the region during the past week.

Storms dumped 8 to 20 inches of rain over a large swath of Florida beginning Tuesday, triggering dozens of rescues as people were stranded in their homes and cars amid the rising floodwaters. The rain closed sections of major highways and disrupted hundreds of flights at airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Heading into the weekend, scattered severe thunderstorms and locally heavy rain was possible across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the Central Plains through Saturday. Flash flood risks could also happen Saturday in the Northern Plains and upper Midwest.

Three pump trucks were clearing localized flooding across Fort Lauderdale, the city said in a statement, adding that while water has begun to recede, expected storms may flood the roads again. Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, both under a flood watch until 8 p.m., opened several locations where residents can pick up free sandbags.

Meanwhile, a separate storm system in the Northeast began to lash the region with heavy rain, causing widespread travel disruptions.

Storms cause delays at major airports across the Northeast

Poor weather in the Northeast, which may hamper after-work commutes and weekend getaways, arrived ahead of a cold front that's going to subside before a potentially record breaking heat wave scorches the region next week.

Rounds of storms and showers are expected to continue across the mid-Atlantic through Friday night before breaking out over New England on Saturday, according to AccuWeather. Then, the heat wave will reach the mid-Atlantic and New England regions on Tuesday.

By Friday afternoon, flights were delayed on average by more than three hours at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. LaGuardia Airport saw average delays of 90 minutes, the FAA said.

In Florida, a small percentage of flights at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport were delayed or canceled Friday afternoon, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking website. The FAA said ground stops were "possible" after 2 p.m.

Florida communities clear debris, floodwater

A tornado touched down on Wednesday in Hobe Sound, a community just north of Palm Beach, toppling tress, knocking out power and damaging some homes as winds reached speeds up to 95 mph. The only twister spun up by the storm system was on the ground for 1.7 miles, stretching across multiple beach communities along the Treasure Coast.

The tornado took down at least 20 landmark Ficus trees that lined a street revered for the canopy's scenic tunnel, which opens up to reveal Hobe Sound Beach. Cranes were used Thursday in what Martin County Fire Rescue spokesperson Cory Pippin said was a “tricky operation” to lift the trees.

“The plan is to save the trees by essentially putting them back up where they stood,” he told Treasure Coast Newspapers, part of the USA TODAY Network. “All of the trees, the ones that came down are all part of the historic 'tunnel' (of trees).”

Crews work to stand the fallen Ficus trees along Bridge Road on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Hobe Sound. Meteorologists confirmed Wednesday evening an EF 1 category tornado touched down earlier in the day just west of U.S. 1 in the Hobe Sound and Jupiter Island areas. Wind speeds were between 85 and 90 mph.
Crews work to stand the fallen Ficus trees along Bridge Road on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Hobe Sound. Meteorologists confirmed Wednesday evening an EF 1 category tornado touched down earlier in the day just west of U.S. 1 in the Hobe Sound and Jupiter Island areas. Wind speeds were between 85 and 90 mph.

On the same day, fire and emergency officials were working across South Florida to clear roads of debris and pump water out of flooded neighborhoods. Miami-Dade County deployed high-water vehicles to assist people who were stranded in the floods. Meanwhile, authorities asked residents to stay cautious, especially when out driving as only 1 foot of moving water is capable of lifting and dragging vehicles.

"There's areas that easily have five feet of standing water," said Andy Alvarez, chief fire officer with the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Thursday in a video on Facebook.

Record breaking rainfall

In a 48-hour period between Tuesday and Thursday morning, 20 inches of rain fell in North Miami while 19 inches fell in Hallandale Beach and Hollywood. On the west coast of the state, Naples was inundated with 17 inches of rain.

North of Naples, in Sarasota, nearly 4 inches of rain fell in one hour, the most to fall in such a short time since records began in 1972, according to the weather service. On Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 6.77 inches of rain was recorded, surpassing the record of 5.47 inches recorded in 1978.

The weather service said the low-pressure system is expected to move northeast off the Sunshine State U.S. through the weekend, ending the dayslong stretch of record-breaking storms.

Florida weather advisories

National weather radar

Contributing: Corey Arwood, Treasure Coast Newspapers; Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: South Florida under flood watch as storms target Northeast

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