Hilary Downgraded to Category 1 Hurricane as It Approaches Mexican Peninsula

by Ethan Kim
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fokus keyword Tropical Storm Hilary

On Sunday morning, Hurricane Hilary moved nearer to the Mexican coast, following its projected trajectory toward the Baja California peninsula. The storm had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service. Despite its reduced intensity, the storm was still considered perilous and had the potential to cause “catastrophic and life-threateningflooding in the region. It was expected to transition into a tropical storm as it crossed into the southwestern United States.

As of the latest update at 2 a.m., the storm was positioned approximately 30 miles south of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, and around 385 miles from San Diego, California. While the maximum sustained wind speed remained at 85 mph, heavy rains were extending northward over the peninsula.

The National Weather Center in Miami emphasized that, even though the hurricane had weakened, it should not be underestimated in terms of danger.

Tragically, on Saturday, an individual lost their life in the town of Santa Rosalia in Mexico due to a vehicle being carried away by a flooded stream. Four other people were rescued from the same incident. The connection between this fatality and the hurricane was not immediately established, but local authorities posted videos showing torrents of water flooding the town’s streets.

Meteorologists projected that Hilary could make history as the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, prompting concerns about flash floods, mudslides, tornadoes, high winds, and power outages. Santa Catalina Island, situated 23 miles off the coast, issued an evacuation advisory.

Elizabeth Adams, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service San Diego office, warned that the region could experience intense rainfall, potentially up to 3 inches per hour, leading to widespread and life-threatening flash floods.

In response to the impending threat, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency. Officials urged residents to complete their preparations before nightfall on Saturday, as it would likely be too late to do so on Sunday.

Hilary marked the latest major climate-related disaster affecting the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The town of Lahaina in Hawaii’s Maui Island was still recovering from a devastating fire, which had claimed over 100 lives and caused extensive destruction. In Canada, firefighting efforts were ongoing amidst the nation’s worst-ever recorded fire season.

On Saturday, Hilary had already brought substantial rain and flooding to Mexico and the southwestern U.S. as it approached the border crossing. Forecasters predicted the storm could dump as much as 10 inches of rain in some areas of southern California and southern Nevada, which is equivalent to a year’s worth of rainfall for those regions.

While the hurricane’s status was downgraded, meteorologists stressed that the threat, especially in terms of flooding, should not be underestimated. The U.S. National Hurricane Center’s Deputy Director, Jamie Rhome, cautioned against complacency due to the weakening trend.

The storm was also expected to create life-threatening surf, rip currents, and waves as high as 40 feet along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Many sought refuge in storm shelters in the Los Cabos resorts, and firefighters were called to rescue a family in San Jose del Cabo, which had been affected by heavy rain and wind.

Tijuana, a border city with a population of 1.9 million, faced concerns about potential collapses of homes on steep hillsides. Authorities closed beaches and established storm shelters in sports complexes and government offices.

Mexico’s navy evacuated hundreds of people from islands off the Baja coast and deployed thousands of troops for emergency operations. Police patrolled closed beaches in La Paz to prevent swimmers from entering the rough surf.

Warnings were issued for potential flooding across Southern California, extending from the coast to interior mountains and deserts. Evacuation warnings were also given for various mountain and foothill communities, along with wildfire burn scar areas in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Los Angeles worked to shelter the homeless, while state beaches in San Diego and Orange counties were closed. Municipalities experienced shortages of sandbags and groceries as residents prepared for the storm’s impact.

The hurricane disrupted plans in various ways, including the rescheduling of Major League Baseball games and a SpaceX satellite-carrying rocket launch. President Joe Biden received briefings on preparedness plans and advised those in the storm’s path to follow the guidance of state and local officials.

Hilary’s journey saw it fluctuate in strength, starting as a Category 4 major hurricane before weakening to Category 3 and eventually Category 2. As it moved closer to the coast, it was expected to make a nighttime landfall in a sparsely populated area of the peninsula, south of Ensenada.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Hilary

What is the current status of Hurricane Hilary?

Hurricane Hilary has been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches the Mexican peninsula.

What kind of impact is Hurricane Hilary expected to have?

Despite being weakened, Hurricane Hilary still poses a significant threat of “catastrophic and life-threatening” flooding to the region. It’s also projected to cross into the southwestern U.S. as a tropical storm.

How far is the storm from its target areas?

As of the latest advisory, the storm is about 30 miles south of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, and approximately 385 miles from San Diego, California.

What dangers are associated with the storm’s approach?

Heavy rains, flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, high winds, and power outages are among the dangers anticipated as Hurricane Hilary approaches Southern California and the Mexican peninsula.

Has the storm already caused casualties?

Yes, one person tragically drowned in Santa Rosalia, Mexico, due to a vehicle being swept away by an overflowing stream.

Is there a historical significance to the storm’s trajectory?

Hilary is projected to become the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, potentially causing flash floods and other hazardous conditions.

What are the preparations and responses to the storm?

Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in California. Evacuation advisories have been issued, and officials are urging residents to take precautions. Emergency operations and evacuation efforts are underway in both Mexico and the U.S.

What precautions are being taken to protect coastal areas?

Beaches have been closed in areas vulnerable to the storm’s impact, and shelters have been set up for those seeking refuge from potential floods.

How is the storm affecting other activities?

The storm has led to rescheduling of events, such as Major League Baseball games and a SpaceX rocket launch. Homeless individuals are being moved to shelters, and state beaches are closed.

What is the response of the U.S. government to the storm?

President Joe Biden has been briefed on preparedness plans and is urging those in the storm’s path to follow guidance from state and local officials.

More about Hurricane Hilary

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