Flooding at Fort Lauderdale Airport Causes Cancellations

Hundreds of flights were canceled after a storm dropping more than 25 inches of rain prompted the airport to temporarily shut down operations.

By Thursday morning, more than 300 flights had been canceled at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (KFLL) because of the rising water. [Screenshot courtesy of National Weather Service]

A storm dropping more than 25 inches of rain in 24 hours has swamped southern Florida, leading to the closure of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (KFLL). The storm stalled over the Bahamas, creating an unlikely weather event for the region.

By Thursday morning, more than 300 flights had been canceled because of the rising water, according to aviation tracking site FlightAware. Travelers were warned not to try to enter or leave the airport as the roads surrounding it were impassable because of the flooding.

Video posted on social media showed water coming into airport buildings and flooded ramps and taxiways. The roads in and out of the airport as well as parking structures were also flooded, and some were blocked by stalled vehicles.

Airport officials released a statement Thursday morning noting, "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."

According to Airnav.com, the airport sits at an elevation of 65 feet and has two parallel runways, 10L/28R measuring 9,000 x 150 feet, and 10R/28L measuring 8,000 x 150 feet. There are 80 aircraft based at the field, which averages around 759 operations a day and includes commercial carrier operations.

Airnav lists four FBOs on the field: Jetscape, Sheltair, Signature Flight Support  and National Jet. Sheltair, Jetscape and National Jet reported they are closed because the airport was still closed as of noon west coast time, and their employees are either at home or sheltering in place. FLYING was unable to reach Signature Flight Support. 

The airport is served by Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines.

All schools in Broward County have been closed for the duration of the event. According to the National Weather Service, a flood watch was in effect across much of South Florida through Thursday evening, prompting city and county officials to issue a warning to residents to stay off roads unless ordered to evacuate or while seeking safety.

The National Weather Service said more rain was expected to continue throughout Thursday, with possible hail and tornadoes.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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