The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for Southern California, marking the first-ever instance of such an alert in the region’s history, as Hurricane Hilary gears up to unleash what experts are calling “rare and dangerous flooding” across the southwestern United States.
The tropical storm watch encompasses an area stretching from the California-Mexico border to the line demarcating Los Angeles County and Orange County, including the iconic Catalina Island, as confirmed by the hurricane center.
Hurricane Hilary has surged to a formidable Category 4 hurricane status, currently wielding powerful winds. Though its potency is expected to wane, it is anticipated to deliver substantial rainfall to sections of California following its impact on Mexico. Weather forecasts suggest that the remnants of the storm could also whip up robust winds in specific areas of California, notably the Los Angeles Basin, as outlined by the Weather Channel.
Dr. Greg Postel, a seasoned hurricane and storm specialist at the Weather Channel with a doctorate in atmospheric sciences, commented, “It is rare — indeed nearly unprecedented in the modern record — to have a tropical system like this move through Southern California.”
Positioned approximately 360 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Hurricane Hilary boasts sustained winds reaching 145 mph, as confirmed by the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s current trajectory is northwest at a pace of 10 mph, with an anticipated shift towards the north-northwest in the coming days.
Meteorologists predict that the storm’s impact will generate a rainfall range of 3 to 6 inches, with localized accumulations reaching up to 10 inches, across sections of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula until Sunday night, presenting a significant risk of flash flooding. Southern California and southern Nevada are also bracing for similar rainfall quantities.
The imminent threat includes the likelihood of “damaging wind gusts,” particularly at higher elevations, accompanied by swells along the coastal areas, warns Postel. Baja California has already activated hurricane watches and warnings, while the peninsula and parts of mainland Mexico are also under the purview of tropical storm watches and warnings.
The hurricane center projects Hilary’s course to take it perilously close to the west coast of the Baja California peninsula over the upcoming weekend, with an expected arrival in southern California by Sunday night. The storm is predicted to weaken into a tropical storm as it approaches southern California on Sunday afternoon, according to the hurricane center’s advisory.