For the first time ever, Southern California has received a tropical storm watch due to the approach of Hurricane Hilary, described as both “large and powerful” storm.
The National Hurricane Center has highlighted the extraordinary nature of this watch for the region. Predictions indicate that Hilary will bring substantial rainfall and the potential for flash flooding, spanning from the Baja California peninsula up to Nevada.
President Biden says the White House is monitoring Hurricane Hilary and FEMA is on the ground to respond as needed, and he urges Americans in the path of the storm to take precautions. pic.twitter.com/JP1Ffa2JPR
— The Recount (@therecount) August 18, 2023
As of Friday, the hurricane was situated approximately 360 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with sustained winds reaching 145 mph.
Greg Postel from the Weather Channel said that having a tropical system like this pass through Southern California is exceedingly uncommon, with almost no modern records of such an event.
“It is rare — indeed nearly unprecedented in the modern record — to have a tropical system like this move through Southern California,” Postel told CBS News.
The most recent occurrence of a tropical storm impacting California was in 1939, a time before they were officially named. The state has since experienced sub-tropical storms in the intervening years, resulting in fatalities, with the 1939 storm leading to the loss of 45 lives, mainly due to drowning.
Projections suggest that the hurricane will make landfall in Baja Mexico over the upcoming weekend, subsequently weakening. It is anticipated to reach Southern California as a tropical storm by Sunday evening.
.@NOAASatellites acquired this image of #HurricaneHilary in the predawn hours of Aug. 18, when the eye of the storm was about 400 miles (640 kilometers) off the coast of Baja California. The storm is expected to weaken while drenching a swath of California and the U.S. Southwest… pic.twitter.com/9ZSZZvOHS1
— NASA (@NASA) August 18, 2023
Meteorologist Brandt Maxwell, from the National Weather Service, shared that while the hurricane is set to maintain tropical storm status upon entering Southern California, its strength is expected to diminish rapidly.