St. Petersburg Times.....State and Metro

More than 10 inches of rain fall across South Florida


Associated Press, May 28, 2003 - 05:50 AM

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MIAMI
Flood watches would remain in effect across South Florida through Wednesday afternoon, as the threat of more rain hovered over the region, forecasters said.

The flood watch for portions of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties would remain in effect through 5 p.m. Wednesday.

As much of 11 inches of rain fell Tuesday afternoon and evening in parts of eastern Broward County, flooding streets and even forcing the temporary closure of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport because runways were covered by standing water, officials said.

About 50 outgoing flights were delayed; another 50 incoming flights were diverted to airports in Miami and West Palm Beach.

"It's easily the worst we've had in 20 years outside of a hurricane or tropical wave," said airport spokesman Jim Reynolds. "I don't think anybody expected the severity of the storm we had."

Parts of the region were pounded by as much as six inches of rain in a single hour, forecasters with the National Weather Service said Tuesday night, adding that daily deluges could continue through the rest of the week.

"We're getting more than our fair share," said Jim Lushine, South Florida warning coordinator for the National Weather Service. "It looks like it won't end anytime soon."

Forecasters were calling for a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms across South Florida on Wednesday, with another several inches of rain possible.

South Florida Water Management District crews wearing rain gear worked through the night in an attempt to push storm water runoff into the ocean. Rains subsided for much of the overnight hours, giving those crews some hope of staying ahead of Wednesday's expected downpours.

"A lot of the gauges have registered six inches of rain in four hours and that's a tremendous strain on all the storm-water systems," said Randy Smith, the district spokesman. "The district was forecasting three inches of rain."

Broward County Fire-Rescue spokesman Todd LeDuc said there were reports of some property damage, but no serious injuries were immediately blamed on the storm. Officials said early Wednesday that some homes were flooded in Broward County and two roofs in the Plantation area had collapsed.

As much as two feet of water covered some major thoroughfares in Broward County, police said.

The rain also forced the postponement of the Florida Marlins-Montreal Expos baseball game. The clubs will attempt to play a doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 5:05 p.m., Marlins officials said.