Torrential rains swamp southern Florida, make serious dent in drought
According to the US Third National Climate Assessment, the number and intensity of very heavy precipitation events (defined as the heaviest 1 percent of all daily events) have been increasing significantly across most of the United States. From 1958 to 2012, the number and intensity of heavy events increased by 27 percent in the Southeast.
For Florida, the past several months have been dominated by drought caused by a lack of rainfall and warmer than average temperatures.
Since June 1, the southern tip of Florida has been absolutely doused with rain. A large swath of the state just north of Miami has received more than 10 inches of rain, with localized areas topping out at more than 20 inches in just 11 days. These totals are over 400% of normal.
On June 2, more than five inches of rain was recorded in Miami. A few days later on June 6 and 7, another 4 inches of rain fell in Miami. This was a pittance compared to communities in Collier and Broward County, which recorded more than 10 inches of rain during the same 48 hours. The June 6 rains broke daily rainfall records not only in Miami, but also in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Naples.
With rains this heavy, flash flooding was inevitable, leaving cars stranded and roads impassable. On a lighter note, it also led to the strange photo-op of people surfing down the streets of Fort Lauderdale.
Not to be left out, the rest of the state observed tremendous rain, too. June rainfall through June 11 has been, in general, at least 150% of normal across the entire state. And similar to the large swath of particularly heavy rains in southern Florida, rains have also been over 300% of normal farther north around the Florida Panhandle.