Rain soaks a storm-battered Florida for a fourth day after floods transformed roads into canals and stranded drivers

Heavy rainfall that’s caused unrelenting flooding in South Florida since Tuesday is drenching the state for a fourth consecutive day Friday. The days of deadly, torrential storms have turned roads into canals and forced some residents to stand on the roofs of their cars or trudge through waist-deep waters.

Two people were killed in a weather-related vehicle crash late Wednesday afternoon southeast of Fort Myers, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Identified only as a 35-year-old woman and a 25-year-old-man, the two died after their vehicle “lost control due to weather” conditions and crashed into opposing traffic, the FHP said. Two others were injured in the crash.

Since heavy rain started swamping the region Tuesday, the flooding has become waist-deep in some places. Hazardous conditions on streets and roadways have stranded drivers and made roads impassable. And they’ve forced some schools in hard-hit counties to shutter and hundreds of flights to be canceled or delayed.

With tropical moisture still streaming over South Florida, the Weather Prediction Center has issued a level 3 of 4 flood threat Friday – just one level lower than the rare high risk of excessive rainfall seen Thursday.

Robust tropical moisture fueling the soaking storms slowly starts to shift out of the area over the weekend, but Friday marks yet another drenching day for South Florida. By week’s end, multiple cities could see more than 2 feet of rain.

“Even moderate rain rates are likely to cause additional flash flooding, as any rainfall will be unable to drain” due to ongoing flooding, the WPC warned Friday.

Flood watches remain in effect for over 7 million people across South Florida, including in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, through Friday evening. An additional 2 to 4 inches or more of rainfall is expected through Friday night. Thunderstorm activity is expected to diminish over the weekend, but any rain Saturday or early Sunday could worsen ongoing flooding issues.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade and Sarasota counties, and officials have urged locals to stay at home instead of walking or driving through the floodwater, which has covered streets and seeped into homes. Many cities have been distributing sandbags to residents to help combat the rising floodwaters.

A vehicle is driven through a flooded street in Hallandale Beach, Florida, on Thursday. - Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A vehicle is driven through a flooded street in Hallandale Beach, Florida, on Thursday. - Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Flooding brought back familiar dangers for Florida residents

With flooding from the rainfall deluging South Florida since Tuesday morning, footage on social media has shown water levels in the area reaching to vehicles’ windows and filling up parking decks and neighborhood streets.

Notably, many South Florida residents had just finished repairing their homes after catastrophic flooding in April 2023, only to find water lapping at their doorsteps this week.

In Miami, video showed stranded cars that were nearly entirely submerged under water. One area family’s yard looked like a lake as belongings floated outside and were pulled from the standing water, according to CNN affiliate WSVN.

“I’m scared,” 11-year-old Somaya Ferdinand told WSVN as she waded through thigh-high water outside her home in Northeast Miami-Dade. “It looked like a swimming pool.”

And in Hallandale Beach, just north of Miami, footage showed one man kayaking among cars as high waters flooded parts of the city. Some mobile home parks were underwater, said Broward County Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Michael Kane.

Severe flooding there on Wednesday covered cars up to their windshields, forcing some drivers to abandon their stalled-out vehicles and wade to safety. Others had to be rescued.

“We had to use our boats to rescue people standing on top of the roofs of cars,” Kane told CNN. Kane’s office received 175 calls for help in Hallandale Beach alone.

Anna Rysedorph, a resident of the Broward County neighborhood of Edgewood, prepared for the worst as water circled her ankles in her home.

“I put the dogs in, I’m all packed up. I pretty much got everything in bins and we’re ready to go,” Edgewood resident Anna Rysedorph told CNN affiliate WSVN Wednesday. “My husband’s like ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic,’ but you know, I’m not gonna be caught unprepared.”

An abandoned car sits submerged in flood waters near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Thursday after heavy rainfall hit the area. - Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
An abandoned car sits submerged in flood waters near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Thursday after heavy rainfall hit the area. - Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Severe storms to impact High Plains, Northeast and mid-Atlantic Friday

As Florida deals with the deluge, a severe thunderstorm threat is ramping up for the Northern and Central High Plains and portions of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic on Friday.

Thunderstorms are expected across parts of Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas beginning Friday afternoon and continuing into the evening, according to the National Weather Service. Large hail and damaging wind gusts are the main threats with any storms in the region through Friday night.

Severe thunderstorms in the East are expected to develop over western Pennsylvania Friday afternoon and spread into the Northeast and mid-Atlantic Coast during the evening. Damaging wind gusts are the main threat, but a few storms could also unload hail.

Major I-95 cities like Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston could be in the path of strong storms.

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe, Mary Gilbert, Taylor Galgano, Christina Maxouris and Amanda Musa contributed to this report.

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