Category 1 Hurricane Hillary heads toward California, still threatening flooding and damaging winds
Hurricane Hillary is expected to hit Southern California this Sunday as a rare tropical storm, unleashing flooding, strong winds and heavy rainfall as residents evacuate, parks and beaches close and first responders prepare for water rescues.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Hillary is now moving north-northwest at 32 km/h at 136 km/h and is a Category 1 storm. It was about 450 miles south of San Diego around 11pm local time on Saturday.
The hurricane is expected to weaken to a tropical storm before reaching the United States, but it will still have a strong impact on the Southwest, with “catastrophic and life-threatening” flooding, the hurricane center said.
The storm is expected to drop 3 to 6 inches of rain, or as much as 10 inches in some areas, and bring damaging winds that could knock out power to many. The worst conditions are expected this Sunday through Monday.
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for much of Southern California on Saturday to support hurricane response and recovery efforts, the governor’s office said.
“We are mobilizing the entire government as we prepare for and respond to this unprecedented storm,” Newsom said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Mexico from Punta Abriozos to Cabo San Quintin, a stretch of about 300 miles along the west coast of the Baja California peninsula.
“Locally catastrophic urban and flash flooding is expected, particularly in northern parts of the peninsula,” the National Hurricane Center said late Saturday, adding that totals of 3 to 6 inches of rain could fall.
Although Hillary is forecast to move north from Baja California to Southern California this Sunday afternoon, the effects will be felt sooner.
“Preparations for flood damage associated with Hillary should be completed as soon as possible as heavy rainfall will begin well before the center,” the hurricane center said.
Parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona with no rain can suddenly receive a year’s worth or more. Also along the coast, large swells created by Hillary are likely to create life-threatening waves and currents.