WEATHER

Hurricane Hilary threatens ‘catastrophic and life-threatening’ flooding in Mexico and California

Aug 19, 2023, 11:30 AM

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Hilary headed for Mexico's Baja California Saturday as th...

A man moors his boat in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, as then-tropical storm Hilary churns in the Pacific Ocean on August 16. Photo credit: Francisco Robles/AFP/Getty Images

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Hilary headed for Mexico’s Baja California Saturday as the U.S, National Hurricane Center predicted “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” for the peninsula and for the southwestern United States, where it is forecast to make land as a tropical storm on Sunday.

Officials as far north as Los Angeles scrambled to get the homeless off the streets, set up shelters and prepare for evacuations.

Hilary is expected to plow into the Mexican peninsula on Saturday night and then surge northward and enter the history books as the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm watch for a wide swath of Southern California from the Pacific coast to interior mountains and deserts. Officials talked of evacuation plans for California’s Catalina Island.

“I don’t think any of us — I know me particularly — never thought I’d be standing here talking about a hurricane or a tropical storm,” said Janice Hahn, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

After rapidly gaining power early Friday, Hilary slowed some later in the day but remained a major Category 4 hurricane early Saturday with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph), down from 145 mph (230 kph).

Early Saturday, the storm was centered about 240 miles (390 kilometers) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. It was moving north-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph) and was expected to turn more toward the north and pick up speed.

The latest forecast track pointed to Hilary making landfall along a sparsely populated area of the Baja peninsula at a point about 200 miles (330 kilometers) south of the Pacific port city of Ensenada.

It is then expected to continue northward, raising fears that its heavy rains could cause dangerous flooding in the border city of Tijuana, where many homes in the city of 1.9 million cling precariously to steep hillsides.

Mayor Montserrat Caballero Ramirez said the city was setting up four shelters in high-risk zones and warning people in risky zones.

“We are a vulnerable city being on one of the most visited borders in the world and because of our landscape,” she said.

Concern was rising in the U.S., too.

The National Park Service closed Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve to keep people from becoming stranded amid flooding. Cities across the region, including in Arizona, were offering sandbags to safeguard properties against floodwaters. Major League Baseball rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California, moving them to Saturday as part of split-doubleheaders,

Deputies with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department took to the road to urge homeless people living in riverbeds to seek shelter. Authorities in the city were arranging food, cots and shelters for people who needed them.

SpaceX delayed the launch of a satellite-carrying rocket from a base on California’s central coast until at least Monday. The company said conditions in the Pacific could make it difficult for a ship to recover the rocket booster.

President Joe Biden said the Federal Emergency Management Agency had pre-positioned staff and supplies in the region.

“I urge everyone, everyone in the path of this storm, to take precautions and listen to the guidance of state and local officials,” Biden told reporters Friday at Camp David, where he is meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

Officials in Southern California were re-enforcing sand berms, built to protect low-lying coastal communities against winter surf, like in Huntington Beach, which dubs itself as “Surf City USA.”

In nearby Newport Beach, Tanner Atkinson waited in a line of vehicles for free sandbags at a city distribution point.

“I mean a lot of people here are excited because the waves are gonna get pretty heavy,” Atkinson said. “But I mean, it’s gonna be some rain, so usually there’s some flooding and the landslides and things like that.”

Some schools in Cabo San Lucas were being prepared as temporary shelters, and in La Paz, the picturesque capital of Baja California Sur state on the Sea of Cortez, police patrolled closed beaches to keep swimmers out of the whipped-up surf. Schools were shut down in five municipalities.

It was increasingly likely that Hilary would reach California on Sunday while still at tropical storm strength, though widespread rain was expected to begin as early as Saturday, the National Weather Service’s San Diego office said.

Hurricane officials said the storm could bring heavy rainfall to the southwestern United States, dumping 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) in places, with isolated amounts of up to 10 inches (25 centimeters), in portions of southern California and southern Nevada.

“Two to three inches of rainfall in Southern California is unheard of” for this time of year, said Kristen Corbosiero, a University of Albany atmospheric scientist who specializes in Pacific hurricanes. “That’s a that’s a whole summer and fall amount of rain coming in probably 6 to 12 hours.”

The region could face once-in-a-century rains and there is a good chance Nevada will break its all-time rainfall record, said meteorologist Jeff Masters of Yale Climate Connections and a former government in-flight hurricane meteorologist.

___

Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington, Maria Verza and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City, John Antczak in Los Angeles, and Eugene Garcia in Newport Beach, California, contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Weather

Winter conditions...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Here’s what to expect as remnants of California blizzard head to Utah

Much of Utah is under a winter weather advisory as remnants of California's blizzard heads to Utah. Wind and cold temperatures on the way.

20 hours ago

FILE: High winds toppled trees that had stood for decades at the Ft. Douglas Post Cemetery, damagin...

Simone Seikaly

Rocky Mountain Power preparing for potentially strong wind storm in Salt Lake

The National Weather Service said wind gusts could reach 65 miles per hour in portions of western Utah valleys on Saturday.

1 day ago

Cars drive on I-80 with a snowy mountain backdrop after snowstorms hit the Wasatch Front throughout...

Adam Small

Overnight storm clearing out but another storm is on the way

The overnight storm that hit northern Utah has mostly cleared however, another storm expected this weekend.

4 days ago

People experiencing homelessness walk in the street near a winter overflow shelter at St. Vincent d...

Peter Johnston

Code blue bill would open emergency beds at 18 degrees

The legislature is considering whether to raise the temperature at which emergency beds open up during code blue alerts. 

5 days ago

Rainy drive...

Adam Small

Rain and snow on its way to the Wasatch Front

Utah will be seeing rain and snow along the Wasatch Front over the next couple of days. Nice weather returns by week's end.

5 days ago

school bus is snowy, cache county school district apologized for not having a snow day...

Jessica Lowell

Cache County School District apologizes for not holding a snow day

The Cache County School District decided to hold a regular school day on Tuesday despite weather conditions. 

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Hurricane Hilary threatens ‘catastrophic and life-threatening’ flooding in Mexico and California