Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall Sunday in the northern part of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, as National Hurricane Center warned “catastrophic and life-threating flooding” in that region , including across portions of the southwestern United States. The National Weather Service said that Hilary was downgraded to a tropical storm as rain from the storm started spreading in Southern California. The storm will make history as the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years.
By the time Hilary reaches California, it is forecast to have downgraded to a tropical storm, which is defined as having winds of at least 39 mph, according to the National Weather Service. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday declared a state of emergency ahead of Hilary’s expected landing later Sunday; It is the first time ever that the National Hurricane Center to issue a tropical storm warning for Southern California, and Los Angeles county officials held a press conference saying they were expecting 1 to 3 inches of rain and wind speeds of 20 to 30 mph. Forecasters warned of “life-threatening” flooding in areas not known for rainfall and said strong winds might down trees and power lines, with tropical storm conditions in the southwestern U.S. and gusty winds expected to spread well inland. The National Hurricane Center said large swells are expected to affect portions of the Baja California peninsula as well as southern California over the next several days.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation on Saturday ordered a temporary closure of all San Diego and Orange County state beaches and several state parks, and Disneyland parks closed early on Sunday. California State Parks announced that all state beaches in San Diego and Orange counties would be closed Sunday and Monday, while the National Park Service closed the Joshua Tree National Park, located east of Palm Springs, through Monday evening over fears of flash flooding. The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels moved all their Sunday games to Saturday double-headers in anticipation of the storm.
Other parts of the southwestern U.S. were preparing, with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas warning on Sunday that strong winds were likely, as well as flash flooding. Widespread “moderate to heavy” rain is expected into early Monday for Southern California, with a high risk of flash flooding that could include “landslides, mudslides and debris flow” in mountains and deserts, and according to the National Weather Service some areas had at least a 70% chance of experiencing flash flooding.
A White House spokesperson said that President Biden had been briefed on Hilary and that his team was working “with state and local agencies ahead of the storm.” The president and first lady Jill Biden are slated to travel to Hawaii Monday to survey the destruction from the Maui wildfires.
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