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Drainage Problems Sunny Isles Beach
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This is footage of the violent thunderstorm that caused several million dollars worth of damage to the city of Miami Beach on June 5, 2009. The severe thunderstorm brought high winds and nine inches of rain in two and a half hours.

The winds were generally in the 35 – 55mph range, with brief spurts over 70mph. The camera I had at the time malfunctioned every few minutes and made it very difficult to capture the best moments from the storm. The highest winds I was able to film are around 1:15.

I noticed the storm on radar and decided to drive out to Miami Beach about 45 min before things got wild. I made it just in time – within five minutes of my arrival the winds increased from nothing 55mph+. Right before the wind struck large hailstones the size of golf balls pelted the streets. The tropical hail was softer than its Midwestern counterpart and did not cause any real damage to my car. The storm also had incredibly dangerous lightning – a radar in Miami recorded 100 lightning strikes in a 2 square mile area in five minutes. The building I took shelter in was struck several times before the power failed.

The thunderstorm was rotating and incredibly inductive to tornadic development, although no tornado was officially recorded. The damaging winds came and went several different times, slowly turning from the South-East to the South, and finally from the West.

The wind tore off shingles, ripped apart fences and snapped large trees, but the real damage was caused by the rain. Despite being relatively flat and surrounded by ocean on all sides, Miami Beach’s drainage system was overwhelmed. The majority of South Beach was flooded in water up to 4ft deep. Hundreds of cars stalled in the waters, and traffic was diverted over sidewalks and lawns. It took me over three hours to get back to Miami – a drive that normally takes 4 minutes.

If you would like to use any of my footage, contact me at [email protected]

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