Tropical Storm Gordon brings heavy rain, winds to South Florida

Stormy weather expected to continue through late Monday afternoon

MIAMI – Tropical Storm Gordon brought heavy rain and winds to South Florida on the Labor Day holiday.

As of the 5 p.m. advisory, Gordon was located about 50 miles west southwest of Fort Myers with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. 

The Tropical Storm Warning for the Upper Florida Keys and from Golden Beach to Chokoloskee, including Florida Bay, has been discontinued.

Local 10 News reporter Madeleine Wright was in Homestead Monday as conditions only got worse throughout the morning into the afternoon. The stormy weather began to calm down later in the afternoon.

Wright said some roadways were partially flooded Monday morning as the rain came down hard in the area.

The winds were also gusty enough to shake traffic lights in the area of Southeast Eighth Street.

"It came as a surprise," Homestead resident Charlie Haponuk said. "I mean, this morning it was just a lot of rain. We normally see it come and go and it never went. It just kept coming and coming and coming. Earlier this morning, my dad said he's going to close up the shop for the day, so he decided to stay home."

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Haponuk said the effects of Gordon in South Florida are a reminder to be prepared during hurricane season.

"It looks like Irma hit certain areas because there's tree branches on the ground, there's a lot of leaves everywhere and it looks really wet," Haponuk said. "But I haven't seen anything like this since Irma. So, you know, it's kind of like, wow, get ready for hurricane season, right?"

Julian Corales, who was coming home from a South Beach weekend Monday afternoon came home to flooded streets off Coral Way and Southwest 143rd Avenue.

"The whole streets are flooding. It's pretty crazy," he said. "We were driving through the puddles and there's rain everywhere." 

Corales was among those surprised by how nasty the weather was for Labor Day.

"I thought it was going to be sunny because it's Labor Day weekend, and just the wind and the cloudiness was just crazy. Unexpected." 

The rainy weather was bad for business in places like Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, where stores were open but tourists and locals were not coming out for the most part.

Local 10 News reporter Amy Viteri was in the area Monday just ahead of the usual lunchtime crowd as only a few people could be seen going into businesses. 

"We only got here yesterday," Steven Groves, who is visiting from Ireland, said. "We've only three nights here and then we're heading off. But, hopefully, it picks up tomorrow for our last day."

Groves said he is trying to do a bit of shopping at least on Labor Day.

Restaurant employees in Lauderdale By-The-Sea also said business was uncharacteristically slow for Labor Day.

"Normally Labor Day is absolutely wild," one worker said. "The patio would be completely packed. We could not even have time to have this conversation on a normal day." 

The weather definitely put a damper in tourists' expectations for the holiday weekend.

"I should have stayed home. It's 97 (degrees) and sunny there," one tourist from Buffalo, New York, said.

Some businesses decided to close their doors early because of the small crowds.

"It's been pretty empty," Jenny Bianca, of The Taco Spot in Hollywood Beach, said. "We opened during the morning, but it's been very quiet so we decided to close."

Dylan Lebaz, who owns Miami Water Sports, said he too had to close up shop because it was too dangerous to be out on the water.

"We knew it would be bad, but not this bad," he said. "We thought just rain. It was supposed to hit more in Key West. We didn't think it'd be so bad over here."

Local 10 News reporter Trent Kelly was in Hallandale Beach as the beaches were clear of people for the most part due to the stormy weather and rough surf.

But that didn't stop some kite surfers from taking advantage of the waves, despite warnings from authorities. 

Kite Surfing in Tropical Storm Gordon

DANGEROUS SURF - Kitesurfers are taking advantage of the dangerous surf around the Commercial Blvd. Pier in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea caused by Gordon. If you're going to try this, make sure you know what you're doing. http://bit.ly/2MN1leM

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Monday, September 3, 2018

"It's a good day to stay out of the water," Joe Taylor, of Hallandale Beach Ocean Rescue, said. "We will advise people that attempt to go in the water that it's not a good idea to go swimming today. There's plenty of other good swimming days -- today is just not one of them."

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials confirmed all beaches in Miami-Dade County are closed to the public because of the high risk of rip currents and unfavorable weather conditions. Surfers are also warned to stay out of the water as there are no lifeguards on duty Monday. 

One of the drawbacks of having such rough surf is the effects it has on sea turtle nesting stations, including one in Hallandale Beach. The nests are protected by law but it was quickly being wiped away Monday. 

"I know that there's turtles in there, and I wonder if they're still in there because I just saw a wave go into the thing," 8-year-old Zohar Holland said.

The fate of the yet-to-be hatched sea turtles is still unknown at this station and many others up and down the coast -- a dark side of beach erosion that Mother Nature delivers in her own majestic way.

"In a way, it's beautiful," nearby resident Marilyn Franzblau said. "I love to see the waves and the ocean, but it lets you know how fragile we are and how powerful the ocean is."

Over in Fort Lauderdale, police were forced to block off the area of A1A and Holiday Drive due to downed power lines.

Drivers are asked to remain in doors if possible until the storm system fully passes. 

Residents in Key Largo told Local 10's Ian Margol they were surprised by the Labor Day storm, adding that they haven't seen flooding like this since Hurricane Irma.

The weather was also a worry for residents who are still getting their homes back together after Irma caused major damage just a year ago.

"Most of us have recovered," Key Largo resident Carroll Martin said. "There's probably five houses in here that, right now, (there's) nothing but platform where they'll put a house back on."

Due to the poor weather, Zoo Miami and Jungle Island announced they would be closed Monday. The Miami Marlins game vs. Philadelphia is scheduled to still be played starting at 1:10 p.m. with the roof closed at Marlins Park.

The weather also affected South Florida's airports. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport officials said there were 84 delayed flights as of 12:30 p.m. and six cancellations. Airport officials said some delays are running more than two hours long. 

Officials with Miami International Airport said operations remain normal, however they too are experiencing some delays.

Passengers are urged to check with their airline for the latest updates.

It seemed South Florida was out of the worst of it by late Monday afternoon as the winds and rain seemed to have died down in most areas.

Schools in South Florida are expected to open as usual Tuesday. 

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