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Fort Lauderdale flooding forces airport to close, leaves drivers stranded for hours

Nearly a foot of heavy rain in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and subsequent flash flooding disrupted the city and forced the closure of its airport for several hours Wednesday afternoon and overnight.

Travelers were left stranded at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Int’l Airport (FLL), including on roadways around the airport, for several hours after “heavy rain and windy conditions” forced the facility to “temporarily” halt all arriving and departing flight activity shortly after 3 p.m.

In a follow-up message, the Fort Lauderdale airport announced it would remain closed overnight until noon on Thursday, April 13.

“The airport’s roadways are still closed and impacted by flooding,” FLL said in a statement. “While stalled vehicles are being removed from the upper/lower levels, the main exit artery remains flooded and congested with slow-moving traffic. We ask for your patience as we wait to safely assess the impacts of this unprecedented rainfall to restore airport operations when it is safe to do so.”

FLORIDA WALLOPED BY HEAVY RAIN, FLOODING AS FORT LAUDERDALE CANCELS FLIGHTS: ‘LIFE THREATENING SITUATION’

A man stops to take pictures of his flooded neighborhood along SW 3rd Street and SW 4th Ave in Dania Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. 

A man stops to take pictures of his flooded neighborhood along SW 3rd Street and SW 4th Ave in Dania Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.  (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

A flash flood emergency remained in effect through the day for the Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill, Hollywood, Dania Beach and Sunrise areas.

“Police and Fire Rescue continue to answer calls for service,” the city of Fort Lauderdale said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Public Works staff are clearing drains and operating pumps to mitigate the water as quickly as possible.”

A group of people in raincoats walk east along Hollywood Blvd. in the pouring rain on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Hollywood, Fla. 

A group of people in raincoats walk east along Hollywood Blvd. in the pouring rain on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Hollywood, Fla.  (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Exit 2 off of the MacArthur Causeway floods over the road and onto the sidewalk during a rainstorm, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Miami. 

Exit 2 off of the MacArthur Causeway floods over the road and onto the sidewalk during a rainstorm, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Miami.  (Alie Skowronski/Miami Herald via AP)

Broward schools also canceled classes and after-school activities Thursday, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

The National Weather Service Miami said more than 20 inches of rain poured down on the city in just six hours Wednesday.

A school crossing guard helps people cross the street in the pouring rain at Dania Elementary School Wednesday, April 12, 2023 in Dania, Fla. 

A school crossing guard helps people cross the street in the pouring rain at Dania Elementary School Wednesday, April 12, 2023 in Dania, Fla.  (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Cars go through the flooded road cause by heavy rains at North Bay Rd and 179th Dr. in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., Wednesday, April 12, 2023. 

Cars go through the flooded road cause by heavy rains at North Bay Rd and 179th Dr. in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., Wednesday, April 12, 2023.  (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

WARM WEATHER BRINGS RISK OF WILDFIRE DANGER, POSSIBLE RECORD HIGHS FOR MILLIONS 

The closures at the airport started earlier in the day when it announced a “temporary” closure. By 4 p.m., the airport said it would remain closed as the main roadways entering and exiting the facility were “flooded and impassable.”

“Please do not attempt to enter or leave the airport at this time,” FLL cautioned. Later that same afternoon, the airport again warned travelers not to “try to enter or leave.”

A haze sets over the city during a rainstorm, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Miami. 

A haze sets over the city during a rainstorm, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Miami.  (Alie Skowronski/Miami Herald via AP)

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport closed April 12 and will reopen at noon on April 13.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport closed April 12 and will reopen at noon on April 13. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

By 6 p.m., FLL said it would remain “closed to flights and roadway traffic until further notice.”

Photos and videos of the flooding online show hundreds of vehicles stalled on the roadways around the airport.

A Hollywood beach is empty during heavy, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Hollywood, Fla. 

A Hollywood beach is empty during heavy, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Hollywood, Fla.  (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

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Other areas in the city were also closed as the rain continued pouring through the night.

A tow truck goes through the flooded road cause by heavy rains at North Bay Rd and 179th Dr. in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., Wednesday, April 12, 2023. 

A tow truck goes through the flooded road cause by heavy rains at North Bay Rd and 179th Dr. in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., Wednesday, April 12, 2023.  (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

A truck drives through flooding in Little Haiti during a rainstorm, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Miami. 

A truck drives through flooding in Little Haiti during a rainstorm, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Miami.  (Alie Skowronski/Miami Herald via AP)

Wilton Manors Police Department and other agencies have urged drivers to avoid flooded areas.

Rain is expected to continue Thursday and thunderstorms are forecast for Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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