Hurricane Hilary, a Category 1 hurricane, is steadily approaching the coast of Mexico with potential catastrophic and life-threatening consequences, according to the National Weather Service. The storm is expected to cross into the southwestern United States as a tropical storm, unleashing heavy rainfall and causing significant flooding in the region. As of the latest advisory at 2 a.m., Hurricane Hilary is located approximately 30 miles south of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, and 385 miles from San Diego, California. Despite weakening, meteorologists caution that the storm remains treacherous.
Tragically, one person lost their life on Saturday in Santa Rosalia, Mexico, when their vehicle was swept away in an overflowing stream. Local officials posted videos showing torrents of water flowing through the town’s streets. While it is unclear if this fatality is directly related to the hurricane, the incident highlights the dangerous conditions caused by Hurricane Hilary.
Forecasters predict that Hurricane Hilary will make history as the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years. The storm is anticipated to bring flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, high winds, and power outages. In response to these predictions, an evacuation advisory has been issued for Santa Catalina Island, urging residents and beachgoers to leave the area immediately.
Elizabeth Adams, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service San Diego office, warns that Southern California could experience rainfall of up to 3 inches per hour in the mountains and deserts. This intense rainfall poses a significant risk of widespread and life-threatening flash floods. In preparation for the storm, California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency, urging residents to complete their preparations before sunset on Saturday.
Hurricane Hilary is just the latest climate disaster to affect North America, with devastating impacts in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Hawaii’s Maui island is still recovering from a recent wildfire that claimed over 100 lives and destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, making it the deadliest wildfire in the country in over a century. In Canada, firefighters continue to battle the worst fire season on record.
Already, Hilary has brought heavy rain and flooding to Mexico and the southwestern United States. The storm is projected to dump up to 10 inches of rain, equivalent to a year’s worth of rainfall in some areas of southern California and southern Nevada. Despite the weakening trend, Jamie Rhome, the U.S. National Hurricane Center’s deputy director, urges vigilance, emphasizing that the flood threat remains significant.
Furthermore, meteorologists anticipate that Hurricane Hilary will generate life-threatening surf and rip currents along Mexico’s Pacific coast, with waves reaching up to 40 feet in height. In response, numerous individuals have sought refuge in storm shelters in the resorts of Los Cabos, while firefighters have conducted rescue operations in San Jose del Cabo.
The city of Tijuana, located in the border region with the United States, is particularly concerned about potential landslides and subsequent home collapses due to weakening ground. Rafael Carrillo, head of the Tijuana Fire Department, stresses the importance of vigilance and immediate evacuation if any signs of ground instability are observed. Tijuana officials have closed all beaches and established storm shelters in various locations throughout the city.
To mitigate the impact of Hurricane Hilary, Mexico’s navy has evacuated 850 individuals from islands off the Baja coast and deployed nearly 3,000 troops for emergency operations. In La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur state, police are enforcing beach closures to prevent accidents in the rough surf.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center has issued tropical storm and potential flood warnings for Southern California, encompassing the Pacific coast, interior mountains, and deserts. The San Bernardino County sheriff has issued evacuation warnings for several mountain and foothill communities, while Orange County has issued its own alert for those living in wildfire burn scars. As a precautionary measure, authorities in Los Angeles are working to relocate homeless individuals to shelters, and state beaches in San Diego and Orange counties have been closed.
The impact of Hurricane Hilary is far-reaching, extending beyond weather-related hazards. Major League Baseball has rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California, moving them to Saturday as part of split doubleheaders. SpaceX has also delayed the launch of a satellite-carrying rocket until at least Monday. In light of these developments, President Joe Biden, who has been briefed on preparedness plans, encouraged everyone in the storm’s path to heed the guidance of state and local officials.
As of now, Hilary has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane, with sustained winds reaching 100 mph. Its projected path indicates a landfall along a sparsely populated area of the Baja peninsula, approximately 200 miles south of Ensenada.
As Hilary approaches, it is crucial that individuals in the affected areas take all necessary precautions to ensure their safety. By closely following the guidance of local authorities and staying informed about the storm’s progress, residents can mitigate the potential risks associated with this dangerous hurricane.