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A tropical disturbance that is soaking South Florida blocked roads, canceled flights, and even delayed travel to a hockey playoff has so far spared Key Biscayne from major flooding, officials said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava declared a state of emergency Wednesday night, saying the move would make it easier to address critical weather-related situations.

By 7 p.m. Wednesday, more than six inches of rain was recorded from the system, according to a sensor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel school on Virginia Key. Nearly three inches had fallen Wednesday alone. 

On the island, Key Biscayne Fire Chief Eric Lang said everything has been calm, with no full road closures although there was at least one power outage Tuesday impacting about 2,000 people. He and other public safety officials urged caution.

“There are roads that are flooded as expected from the rain. We recommend not driving through flooded roadways,” Lang said.   

The disorganized storm system was pushing across Florida from the Gulf of Mexico at roughly the same time as the early June start of hurricane season, which this year is forecast to be among the most active in recent memory amid concerns that climate change is increasing storm intensity.

The disturbance has not reached cyclone status and was given only a slight chance to form into a tropical system once it emerges into the Atlantic Ocean after crossing Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Regardless of development, heavy rainfall is forecast to continue across portions of the Florida peninsula during the next few days,” the hurricane center posted on its website Wednesday.

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Numerous roads were flooded and impassable for vehicles. On major artery Interstate 95 in Broward County, southbound traffic was being diverted around a flooded section and contractors were on their way to pump the drainage system, the Florida Highway Patrol said in an email. The interstate wouldn’t reopen until after water is drained, the agency said. |

The Miami weather service office issued increasingly dire warnings.

“Life-threatening flooding is now ongoing,” the service said on the X social media platform. “Please stay off the roadways and get to higher ground.”

Dozens of flights were delayed or canceled at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The NHL’s Florida Panthers were delayed more than three hours from departing Fort Lauderdale for their nearly six-hour flight to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

It’s already been a wet and blustery week in Florida. In Miami, about 6 inches  of rain fell Tuesday and 7 inches in Miami Beach, according to the National Weather Service.

More rain was forecast for the rest of the week, leading the weather service office in Miami to extend a flash flood watch through Thursday. Some places could see another 6 inches of rain.

Forecasts predict an unusually busy hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates there is an 85% chance that the Atlantic hurricane season will be above average, predicting between 17 and 25 named storms in the coming months including up to 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes. An average season has 14 named storms.

Fort Lauderdale was hit hard in April 2023 with record rainfall totals ranging from 15 inches (38 centimeters) to 26 inches (66 centimeters). Many homes and businesses were flooded.

BIILY JEAN LOUIS is the senior editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. A native of Port Au Prince, Haiti, Jean Louis  has worked for Bloomberg and the Baltimore Sun. He is a corps member of Report for America

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