Flooding on I-696 near Detroit, Mich.(kim_lanette via Instagram)

Incredible, widespread flooding on Monday has shut down much of the Detroit metro freeway system, and many of the roads remained closed on Tuesday morning. Over four inches of rain fell, breaking the rainfall record for the day and making Monday the second wettest day in Detroit history.

Record-breaking rains flooded Detroit and its suburbs and forced Michigan to declare a state of emergency. One woman reportedly died of cardiac arrest after becoming trapped in her car. (Reuters)


The rain started on Monday morning, when moderately heavy downpours pushed in from the south. After that first wave of rain moved north out of the area, a new batch of stronger storms inundated the already soaked metro. 4.57 inches of rain fell at the Detroit airport, and reports of over four inches of rain were widespread across the metro, including a report of 5.13 inches in Macomb, Mich., and 6.39 inches in Shelby Township. Within the 6 p.m. hour alone the Detroit airport clocked 1.24 inches of rain.

Hourly radar animation in the Detroit area from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. (Weather Underground, modified by CWG)

Detroit Local 4 Meteorologist Paul Gross was astounded by the flooding event:

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.

The Michigan Department of Transportation was also amazed, and in candid communications, warned the public to stay off the roads:

Freeways remained closed on Tuesday as water still stands in the below-grade stretches. Rain is expected to continue in Detroit on Tuesday, though shouldn’t be nearly as torrential as Monday’s deluge. Some flood warnings continue for local rivers, though widespread flood advisories have expired since last night.

Detroit traffic alerts on Monday evening at 9 p.m. ET. Green indicates free-flowing roads. The more red the roads become, the slower the speed of traffic on the road. (Google Maps)

I-94 in Detroit, Mich.: