Wind gusts near 60 mph and as much as seven inches of rain on Wednesday night and Thursday morning left large tree limbs, bleachers and canopies blocking roadways in Key Biscayne.
Fire Chief Eric Lang, getting a strong cup of coffee in the afternoon, had been up since 2 a.m. after getting reports that the weather turned from a steady drizzle on Wednesday to something more nefarious.
A flash flood warning was issued for the island by the National Weather Service on Wednesday night. It also issued a High Wind Warning for coastal Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Key Biscayne residents on social media reported power outages as the storm ramped up – and a few homes still were without electricity on Thursday, according to Florida Power & Light’s outage map. The traffic light in front of MAST Academy was out in the morning.
“There were several roads that were either fully or partially blocked that required either a cut team or heavy equipment,” Lang said.
A canopy was found in the middle of Woodcrest Road and some bleachers – possibly related – were found up on a fence on Enid Drive, Lang said. The L’Esplanade Mall also had some minor roof damage.
The National Weather Service had no reports of any tornado activity in the Key Biscayne area, but Lang wondered. “We might have had something going on here. The amount of trees we had down – like big trees blocking roadways – it’s more than I remember in the recent past,” he said.
Nick Carr, a meteorologist in Miami with the National Weather Service, said there were 5 inches of rain recorded on the northern side of Key Biscayne, and 7 inches of rain on the southern end. He said wind gusts of 57 mph were recorded at nearby Virginia Key, while across Biscayne Bay at Government Cut, instruments recorded a 75 mph gust.
In Miami-Dade, there were delays across “all modes” of public transport on Thursday morning, according to Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
The storm was unusual for South Florida for this time of the year – considered the dry season – as fronts from the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico clashed over the peninsula, creating storms that then stalled for two days. Carr said it was reminiscent of a storm in the northern climes of the U.S.
Not helping matters, Carr said, was that the heaviest rainfall occurred during high tide which no doubt contributed to the flooding. McIntyre Street was still under a good two feet of water on Thursday afternoon.
“So you get the five to seven inches of rain, the freshwater component, and then you get the saltwater coming through the enhanced tides,” Carr said. “It didn’t help you guys on the island.