Weather experts knew it was going to rain and rain hard.
What they didn’t know is that a storm of historic proportions would quickly develop over the heart of Metro Detroit on Monday and remain there several hours, flooding roads and stranding motorists in a relentless downpour.
The National Weather Service allowed Tuesday that it wasn’t expecting the rainfall in some spots to reach 5 or 6 inches.
“We were maybe surprised by some of the higher amounts,” said Steve Considine, a meteorologist at the weather service station in White Lake Township.
The weather service had issued flood advisories through Monday and a flood warning just after 6 p.m. The rain, however, began around 2 p.m. in parts of Metro Detroit and the rounds continued into early evening.
But storm systems can develop rapidly and the one Monday convened within an hour over the most populated parts of Metro Detroit, said Considine.
“It not just developed quickly but right over the heart of Detroit,” he said.
It was the heaviest one-day rainfall to hit the region in almost 90 years, what Gov. Rick Snyder called “simply a record event of rain.”
Kamal Algahmie of Dearborn wasn’t sure an early warning would have mattered in his city, one of the hardest hit by the rain. He, his brother and their parents all had basement flooding.
“Maybe I would’ve made sure my stuff wasn’t flat out on the floor ... (But) maybe the water would’ve come up to the table. You really can’t do anything when it comes to that point.”
A state of emergency was declared in Wayne County, Ferndale and Warren, a designation that allows federal relief and support. Gov. Rick Snyder said he will look into whether federal aid is available for devastated roadways that include Interstates 75 and 696.
The flood was responsible for at least two deaths, both in Warren. A 31-year-old woman was found inside a vehicle that was stranded in about 3 feet of water. Mayor James Fouts said she apparently died of cardiac arrest. A second woman, 101 years old, was found dead inside her flooded basement, said Warren Deputy Police Commissioner Louis Galasso.
Metro Airport reported 4.57 inches of precipitation Monday, second only to the 4.74 inches which fell on July 31, 1925, according to the National Weather Service. As homeowners and crews worked to fix Monday’s damage, it continued raining Tuesday, exacerbating the problem.