Tidal floods inundate Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale streets


Ocean swells continued to inundate coastal areas at high tide Monday, snarling traffic and leaving sodden messes, especially in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach.

Streets in parts of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale were under water again Monday as a full moon pulled in higher-than-normal tides and the trailing edges of Hurricane Sandy continued to stir up storm swells.

Beachfront flooding in Fort Lauderdale kept State Road A1A closed Monday night from Sebastian Street north to Northeast 20th Street. Although the water had mostly receded, clean-up crews worked all day to push sand back to the beach and clean up debris.

The strip of road, which has been closed since late Friday, was expected to reopen Tuesday morning as soon as it was approved by engineers from the Florida Department of Transportation, according to Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman DeAnna Garcia.

A manager at the W Hotel on A1A, four blocks north of Sebastian Street, said at least a foot of water came right up to the hotel’s front stairs at high tide Monday morning. He said many of the guests who came for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show were stuck because of canceled flights to the Northeast and had booked an extra night at the hotel.

Although Hollywood beach had its share of streets under water last week, there were no reports of significant flooding Monday night, police said.

In Miami Beach, the water began to recede around noon Monday with low tide, but flooded back again at high tide just after 7 p.m.

The morning’s high tide, just before 9, slowed traffic to a crawl as drivers inched through standing water. The worst spot was on Alton Road at 10th Street, causing backups on the eastbound lanes of the MacArthur Causeway as far as Interstate 95. No roads were closed, said city spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez, although some lanes were closed on the western side of the island.

“Miami Beach is lower on the bay side because water is supposed to drain to the west. Imagine Biscayne Bay is like a bathtub, and now the bathtub is overflowing,” Rodriguez said, citing the full moon and storm swells. “We haven’t seen it this bad since I can remember, especially without rain.”

Philip Levine, president of Royal Media, a public relations firm, had sandbags barricading his building at the corner of 10th and Alton.

“The road becomes an ocean, and the cars are like boats sending their wake crashing up against our front door,” Levine said. “I’d almost expect to see them pulling water skiers. It’s an absolute disaster.”

Sailboats and yachts tied up beside Collins Avenue floated above submerged docks, and saltwater from the bay flooded onto parts of Indian Creek Drive. Because the ocean — not rain — is to blame for the flooding, drivers should hose down their cars to prevent damage from salt water, Rodriguez said.

The water should continue to subside as Hurricane Sandy gets farther away. The enormous storm is still causing 10-foot storm swells off Florida, said Barry Baxter of the National Weather Service.

A small-craft advisory was in effect Monday for high seas and strong winds, Baxter said, and he advised beachgoers to stay out of the water because the high risk of rip currents. The wind is expected to be back to normal by Wednesday.

Hurricane Sandy is partly responsible for the cooler temperatures that have washed over in South Florida, as the huge storm pulls cold air down from the Tennessee valley, Baxter said. Low temperatures in the mid-50s were forecast for Miami-Dade and Broward counties Monday night, about 10 degrees below average for this time of year.

High temperatures in Miami-Dade and Broward on Tuesday will be in the mid-70s, with lows Tuesday night in the 50s, the weather service said.

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