Category 4 Hurricane Hilary is set to bring significant impacts, including heavy rainfall and flooding, to the US Southwest from the upcoming weekend through the early part of the following week, warns the National Weather Service (NWS).
In an unprecedented move, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a tropical storm watch for select areas of Southern California on Friday, highlighting the potential for tropical conditions within the next 48 hours.
Hilary rapidly escalated from a tropical storm along Mexico’s Pacific coast to attain Category 4 hurricane status by Friday, featuring peak surface wind speeds ranging from 209 to 251 km per hour.
According to the NWS, Hilary is expected to make landfall in Southern California around midnight on August 21 as a tropical storm. Before this, it is projected to weaken along the western coastline of the Baja California Peninsula on Saturday.
The weekend is expected to see heightened rainfall, and there’s an increasing risk of strong winds, particularly in elevated areas of the Southwest, the NWS stated.
In response to this forecast, a Flood Watch was declared on Friday, especially considering that numerous municipalities in southeastern California, situated in the current trajectory of the storm, are below sea level.
Some regions are estimated to receive up to 5 inches of precipitation over the next five days.
A considerable threat of life-threatening and potentially catastrophic flooding looms over a substantial part of southern California during the weekend and early next week, with cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Diego in the high-risk zone.
Furthermore, the NWS emphasized that robust winds will lead to hazardous sea conditions, capable of capsizing or damaging vessels and reducing visibility. Mariners have been advised to reconsider plans to avoid potential dangers.
Ken Graham, Director of the NWS, underscored the severity of this impending storm in a tweet, emphasizing their vigilant monitoring of Hurricane Hilary and its anticipated impact on Mexico and the southwestern United States.
Chris Heiser, Executive Director for the Office of Emergency Services in San Diego, emphasized the distinctiveness of Hurricane Hilary’s reach. He stated that it spans from the desert to the ocean, setting it apart from previous storms.