Hilary downgraded to Category 2 hurricane as Mexico and California brace for `catastrophic’ impact

by Madison Thomas
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fokus keyword Tropical Storm Hilary

Hilary was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, as Mexico and California prepare for potential disastrous consequences.

Late on Saturday, Hurricane Hilary was progressing towards Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, having been downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm, but remaining a significant threat. The U.S. National Weather Service warned of “catastrophic” flooding and the likelihood of the storm transitioning into a tropical storm as it moves into the southwest U.S.

Despite weakening, Hilary could make history as Southern California’s first tropical storm in 84 years. According to a Saturday update by John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, Hilary’s weakening has been rapid, with evidence of the eye filling and the surrounding cloud tops warming.

Meteorologists predict that the storm could deliver 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain, and up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) in isolated areas in southern California and southern Nevada. Along Mexico’s Pacific coast, the storm is expected to create perilous surf conditions and rip currents, with waves reaching up to 40 feet (12 meters) high.

Preemptive measures have been taken, including evacuation advisories for tourist destinations like Santa Catalina Island, and authorities in Los Angeles moving the homeless into shelters. Efforts to reinforce sand berms in Southern California were also in progress.

The Miami-based hurricane center issued warnings for Southern California for tropical storms and potential flooding, and evacuation warnings were announced for certain mountain and foothill communities.

Courtney Carpenter, a National Weather Service meteorologist, forecasted flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, and wind damage to Southern California, with power outages anticipated.

Hilary had earlier escalated into a perilous Category 4 hurricane with top winds of 145 mph (230 kph), but then gradually weakened to Category 2.

As of the latest update, it was situated 640 miles (1030 km) south-southeast of San Diego, California, moving at 17 mph (28 kph), with expectations to turn north and accelerate.

The storm’s anticipated path included brushing past Punta Eugenia on Mexico’s southern Baja peninsula before reaching landfall near Ensenada. From there, Hilary is projected to continue north, causing heavy rain and floods in Tijuana, where concerns are particularly high due to poorly constructed hillside homes.

Measures across the region include park closures, sandbag distribution, baseball game rescheduling, and SpaceX delaying a rocket launch. President Joe Biden has urged caution, with FEMA positioning staff and supplies in the area.

Both excitement and concern were observed along coastal communities, with Mexico’s Navy evacuating individuals and deploying troops, and resorts on the Baja peninsula taking in storm refugees.

Overall, while the downgrade of Hurricane Hilary offers some relief, its potential impact across Mexico and California continues to prompt serious preparation and vigilance from residents, authorities, and meteorological experts alike.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Hilary

What category is Hurricane Hilary currently, and where is it headed?

Hurricane Hilary has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm and is headed towards Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It is expected to move into the southwest U.S., possibly becoming a tropical storm.

What impact is Hurricane Hilary expected to have on Mexico and California?

The storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall, possibly causing catastrophic flooding, along with dangerous surf conditions in Mexico and southern California and Nevada. There may also be flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, and wind damage in Southern California.

What precautions and actions are being taken in response to Hurricane Hilary?

Officials have issued evacuation advisories for specific areas, including Santa Catalina Island. Los Angeles authorities are moving the homeless into shelters, sand berms are being reinforced, and weather warnings have been issued across Southern California. The Navy in Mexico has evacuated people and deployed troops for emergency operations.

What are the expected rainfall amounts and surf conditions due to Hurricane Hilary?

Meteorologists forecast that the storm could bring 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain in parts of southern California and southern Nevada, with isolated areas receiving up to 10 inches (25 centimeters). Along Mexico’s Pacific coast, surf conditions are expected to be life-threatening, with waves reaching up to 40 feet (12 meters) high.

Have any governmental authorities or agencies responded to the hurricane’s threat?

Yes, President Joe Biden has urged caution and announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had pre-positioned staff and supplies in the region. Local authorities across the affected areas have issued warnings, evacuations, and provided sandbags and other resources.

How are local residents reacting to Hurricane Hilary?

Local residents are showing both excitement and concern. Some are excited about the prospect of heavy waves, while others are taking precautions such as lining up for free sandbags at distribution points. Emergency shelters have also been set up to accommodate evacuees.

More about Hurricane Hilary

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