Detroit Flooding: Ford, Lodge, Chrysler, Southfield Freeways and I-696 Underwater After Historic Rainfall Event

By Nick Wiltgen
Published: August 12, 2014

Detroit and its suburbs were inundated with record-shattering rainfall during the afternoon rush Monday, leaving many motorists stuck on flooded freeways and arterial roads. Some cars were nearly submerged to their roofs when they drove into flooded underpasses. Countless city and suburban neighborhood streets were also submerged.

At least five major freeways had stretches that were completely blocked by floodwaters Monday evening, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) website.

Those included portions of the Ford Freeway (Interstate 94), the Chrysler Freeway (Interstate 75), Interstate 696, the Southfield Freeway, and the Lodge Freeway.

Portions of those freeways remained closed as of early Tuesday morning, 10 hours after the last of the rain had moved out of the area.

MDOT said there is no estimate of when I-75 at I-696 in the northern suburbs would reopen, and recommended avoiding I-696 near and east of I-75 through Warren until further notice. According to a sigalert.com traffic camera, one-lane of slow-moving only began to move through Interstate 94 at Livernois Ave. west of downtown Detroit Tuesday morning. A mudslide blocked the Southfield Freeway northbound at Grand River.

Each flooded area needs to be cleaned and inspected before reopening, according to MDOT. 

(MORE: Latest Severe Weather Forecast)

"I've lived in this area 40 years, and can't ever recall all the major expressways closing for flooding like happened in today's storms," said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for The Weather Channel's sister company, Weather Underground.

This observation was backed up by Detroit native WDIV-TV Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross. "I have lived my entire life and worked my entire career here, and I have never seen as widespread a flooding event. I also remember some individual intense thunderstorms that flooded one freeway. But I don't ever remember every freeway being flooded out."

Michigan State Police advised motorists to avoid all non-essential travel on metro Detroit freeways, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A swath taking in the western and northern sides of Detroit proper and the adjacent western and northern suburbs appeared to be hardest hit. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of photos and videos posted to social media of flooded neighborhood streets and major thoroughfares.

Photos of flooded basements surfaced on social media from all over metro Detroit, including Detroit itself and the suburbs of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Oak Park, Ferndale, Berkley and Rosedale. Basement flooding was also reported in Huntington Woods, according to the National Weather Service.

Some of the heaviest rain came in the 6 p.m. hour, when 1.24 inches of rain fell at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in just 24 minutes, part of a record-breaking 4.57 inches of total rainfall for the day. It is the second-heaviest calendar-day rainfall on record in the Motor City, behind only a 4.74-inch deluge on July 31, 1925.

In Oakland County, a spotter reported 6.25 inches of rain over just 12 hours in Southfield.

Despite measuring its snowiest winter on record earlier this year, breaking a 133-year-old record, Detroit's precipitation total for 2014 to date was near normal before Monday's storm.

Here are some of the many flooding images that emerged from social media across metro Detroit Monday.

Ad Blocker Enabled

Featured Blogs

Extreme 'Grey Swan' Hurricanes in Tampa Bay: a Potential Future Catastrophe

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 26, 2016

Hurricanes more extreme than any observed in recorded history can occur in a warming climate, and can be anticipated by combining physical knowledge with historical data. The risk of such “grey swan” hurricanes for Tampa, Florida may increase by up to a factor of fourteen by the end of the century, thanks to our changing climate.

Hottest Reliably Measured Air Temperatures on Earth

By Christopher C. Burt
July 22, 2016

As Jeff Masters mentioned in his recent blog, a temperature of 54.0°C (129.2°F) was observed at Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21st. According to the Kuwait Meteorological Department this was the hottest temperature ever measured in the country (a reading of 54.4°C/129.9°F observed at the same site on July 16, 2010 has been disallowed as a result of a faulty sensor). The 54.0°C reading also is a new record for Asia and ties a similar reading at Death Valley (on June 30, 2013) as the hottest reliably measured temperature on Earth. The key word here is ‘reliably’. Many hotter temperatures have been reported from around the world in years past. However, all of these have credibility issues. In that vein I am going to revisit a blog I first posted on WU in October 2010 listing all the various claims to temperature readings at or above 54°C (129.2°F). In the years since I made that post I’ve learned more about some of these claims and have thus updated my entries and ‘validity’ scores as a result.

An extraordinary meteorological event; was one of its results a 1000-year flood?

By Stu Ostro
October 5, 2015

The confluence of meteorological ingredients the first weekend in October 2015 resulted in an extraordinary weather event with severe impacts. Was one of them a 1000-year flood?

Why the Arrest of a Science-Loving 14-year-old Matters

By Shaun Tanner
September 16, 2015

By now, many of you have heard or read about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student from Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested because school officials called the police after he showed one of his teachers his homemade clock. Mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed was taken into custody, interrogated, shamed, suspended (still on suspension today, Wednesday), and reprimanded. All of this after it has been found that the "device" he brought to school was indeed, a homemade clock.