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Talking Points with Taylor: Implications of peculiar Fort Lauderdale flooding

On April 12, Fort Lauderdale experienced a severe flash flood that drenched the city in over 20 inches of rain in just 12 hours, causing the airport to shut down and citizens to evacuate their homes due to obvious safety concerns.

Mayor Dean Trantalis placed the city under a state of emergency and declared the flooding, “an unprecedented amount of rainfall.”  The National Weather Service reported the flooding was a product of a slow-moving frontal boundary across South Florida combined with a deepening low-pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico. However, the flood is concerningly “out of season” and baffling meteorologists. 

ACCUWeather Chief Meteorologist, Jonathan Porter explained three reasons why the flood was peculiar. 

First, the rainfall was extreme. Within the first 10 minutes there were already 1.5 inches of rain, which was close to the U.S. all-time-record for amount of rain in that short of a time period. Second, the flooding is noteworthy not only for the amount of rain, but that it didn’t occur during a hurricane. Lastly, it is unusual for sustained rainfall rates of 4-6 inches per hour to occur in the exact same spot. 

Another AACU meteorologist, Alex DaSilva, noted that “April is still considered the dry season in southern Florida, with Fort Lauderdale averaging only 3.70 inches of rain for the month.” The wet season doesn’t start until June and ends in October, these months have considerably more rainfall.

The flood’s behavior has meteorologists confused, as it clearly isn’t following expected weather trends. It is instead following another trend, one that will increasingly impact people all over the world: climate change, which increases the risk and severity of natural disasters/ hazards. 

Increasing global temperatures from human activity positively correlate with extreme temperatures and extreme precipitation events. Tropical regions, like Florida, happen to be the most at risk. Tropical areas already have warmer atmospheres that hold more water, as they experience more precipitation when compared to other climates. When the atmospheric temperature increases from global warming, so does moisture content. More moisture results in more precipitation and more precipitation results in more flooding events.

A study of worldwide reported disasters from 1970 to 2019 found that out of the 11,072 reported disasters, 44% have been associated with floods the leading category. Followed behind it at 35% is storms, which includes hurricane events. In North America, storms accounted for the greatest loss of life at 71% and greatest economic losses at 78% from all reported disasters. 

The unfortunate truth is that these disasters will only become more frequent and more severe as global temperatures continue to rise. Tropical climates already face so much threat from deforestation, coastal development and other human activity. These areas hold some of the highest rates of biodiversity and productivity, and they deserve protection and preservation. Without more policies aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, flooding and storming events will continue to wreak havoc on people and local habitats. 

Not only will people and the planet suffer, but the economy as well. Yet, the biggest force against environmental prosperity is economic prosperity.

New oil drilling projects continue to surface to “help” the economy and lower gas prices. But, we must shift the focus off the present economy and instead think about the future. Investing in new oil projects inadvertently invests in more frequent disasters and the economic consequences that follow.

These disasters cost millions of dollars in reparations. We know that eventually we will have to cease oil production because there won’t be any left, and that time is coming soon. If we truly want the economy to flourish, we must stop drilling for oil and invest in cleaner technology. 

Taylor Henninger is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Taylor by emailing her at

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