Weather News

Parts of Miami were underwater in a flash flood. When will this rain stop?

Canoes in Kendall streets. New waterfront properties in Richmond Heights. Malls and gas stations now able to add the chi-chi “lakes” to their names, as in Crystal “Lakes” Shopping Center or Chevron “Lakes.”

That’s one picturesque way of looking at the post-deluge lifestyle of South Florida after days and days of rain.

Alas, that forecast is — sorry — on tap again for Friday afternoon as the National Weather Service in Miami has coastal and metro Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach under a flood watch through at least 8 Friday night.

The not-so-glamorous reality?

Nearly six inches of rain fell in one hour in South Miami-Dade Thursday afternoon, CBS4’s chief meteorologist Craig Setzer said, fulfilling the weather service’s prediction of flash flooding in Richmond Heights, Kendall and County Walk’s neighborhoods.

The hardest hit area was east and west of Florida’s Turnpike near Southwest 120th Street, Miami Herald’s news partner CBS4 reported.

Southwest 117th Avenue, pockmarked and backed up already thanks to ongoing roadwork, also pooled over before eventually receding Thursday night near 122nd Street.

The result: stalled and flood-damaged cars, busy tow truck operators, and rush hour nightmares Thursday evening and for Friday morning’s commute as all that standing water really had nowhere to go as the grounds are saturated.

And can you imagine the thought of drowning even entered one’s mind? On land.

That’s how it was for one South Miami-Dade community. A neighbor used her boat to guide her gardener to safety, WSVN 7 reported.

“He couldn’t swim. He was scared, so I got my boat from the lake in the back and put him in it,” Sylvie Ritts told news stations.

She said she had to push the boat with her gardener inside it for more than half an hour.

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South Miami-Dade resident Sylvie Ritts used her boat to help her gardner stay above flooded streets in the community on Aug. 15, 2019. Ritts was featured on numerous TV news broadcasts, including CBS4 and WSVN7 as the neighborhood was hit by 6 inches or so of rain after heavy thunderstorms saturated the area. Amy Reyes

“He said, ‘Don’t leave me,’ ” Ritts said. “He kept telling me not to leave him.”

Streets in Northwest Miami-Dade also gurgled as flooding brought water to people’s knees along Northwest 173rd Drive and Northwest 74th Avenue on Thursday, WSVN 7 reported.

Shoppers at one of the nation’s most popular malls, Aventura, dodged the deluge earlier this week and splashed amid pockets of standing water.

Weekend forecast

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The National Weather Service in Miami’s forecast for Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, through Sunday, Aug. 18, shows a flood watch in effect Friday but drier air moving over South Florida for the weekend. National Weather Service

The good news is soon drivers will be able to pack the snorkels, stow the boats and canoes, and just deal with the hassles of construction on South Florida roadways.

Drier air is on the way to South Florida, the National Weather Service forecasts, with rain chances dropping to 20% on Saturday and 30% on Sunday, before inching up a bit to 40% at the start of the next work week.

Temperatures in the low 90s and heat indexes at 100 or so should dry out most streets before the next flood comes.

Hey, it is summer in South Florida, after all.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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