Hurricane Hilary moves very near to Mexico’s Baja coast packing deadly rainfall

by Joshua Brown
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fokus keyword Tropical Storm Hilary

Hurricane Hilary approached Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, approaching landfall as a Category 1 hurricane with the potential for devastating rainfall. The storm’s heavy rain poses a severe and life-threatening flooding risk across a wide area of the southwestern United States.

The National Weather Center in Miami reported that by 5 a.m., Hurricane Hilary was situated “very near” the Baja coast, south of Ensenada, and approximately 285 miles (460 kilometers) away from San Diego, California. While its sustained wind speed diminished to 80 mph (130 kph), the hurricane continued to bring substantial rainfall as it moved northward over the peninsula.

Meteorologists cautioned that despite its weakening, the storm remained hazardous.

Tragically, one individual lost their life on Saturday in the Mexican town of Santa Rosalia on the eastern coast of the peninsula. The fatality occurred when a vehicle was swept away by an overflowing stream. Emergency personnel were able to rescue four other people. The fatality’s connection to the hurricane was not immediately confirmed, but local officials shared videos of torrents of water coursing through the town’s streets.

Predictions indicated that Hurricane Hilary was on track to become the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years. This event was expected to bring about flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, strong winds, and power outages. An evacuation advisory was issued for Santa Catalina Island, advising residents and visitors to leave the island located 23 miles (37 kilometers) off the coast.

Elizabeth Adams, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service San Diego office, noted that Southern California’s mountains and deserts could experience rainfall of up to 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) per hour, leading to widespread and life-threatening flash floods.

Given the imminent threat, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency, urging people to complete their preparations before sundown on Saturday.

The hurricane marked the latest in a series of significant climate-related disasters affecting the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These disasters included wildfires in Hawaii, historic wildfires in Canada, and the heavy rain and flooding brought by Hurricane Hilary itself. The storm’s impact included heavy rain and flooding in Mexico and the southwestern U.S. on Saturday before its anticipated border crossing on Sunday. Forecasts indicated that the storm could deposit up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, equivalent to a year’s worth of rainfall in some regions of southern California and southern Nevada.

While the hurricane’s status was downgraded, experts emphasized that the threat remained considerable and urged people to remain vigilant.

Meteorologists anticipated that the storm would create “life-threatening” surf and rip currents, with waves reaching up to 40 feet (12 meters) high along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Many sought shelter in storm shelters in Los Cabos, and firefighters conducted rescues in San Jose del Cabo after the resort was hit by heavy rain and wind.

In Tijuana, authorities voiced concerns about potential landslides and collapses of homes on steep hillsides due to the heavy rainfall. Beach closures and storm shelters were put in place as precautionary measures.

Mexico’s navy evacuated individuals from islands off the Baja coast and deployed thousands of troops for emergency operations. In La Paz, police worked to keep swimmers away from the turbulent surf.

The U.S. hurricane center issued tropical storm and potential flood warnings for a wide area of Southern California, including the Pacific coast, interior mountains, deserts, and even parts of eastern Oregon and Idaho. Evacuation warnings were issued for several mountain and foothill communities, and precautions were taken to safeguard against flooding in various areas.

In response to the impending storm, Los Angeles officials worked to relocate homeless individuals to shelters, and state beaches were closed in San Diego and Orange counties.

As the hurricane’s impact drew nearer, residents in the region stocked up on supplies, leading to shortages of sandbags and groceries. National parks closed to prevent visitors from getting stranded due to flooding.

Major League Baseball adjusted its schedule due to the storm, SpaceX delayed a rocket launch, and President Joe Biden was briefed on preparedness plans, urging residents in the storm’s path to follow guidance from local authorities.

Hilary initially intensified into a dangerous Category 4 hurricane before weakening as it approached landfall. It was projected to move north-northwest and make landfall in a sparsely populated area of the Baja peninsula.

Contributors to this report included Dazio from Los Angeles, Borenstein in Washington, Verza and Stevenson in Mexico City, Antczak in Los Angeles, Watson in San Diego, and Garcia in Newport Beach, California.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Hilary

What is Hurricane Hilary and where is it heading?

Hurricane Hilary is a Category 1 hurricane approaching Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It poses a risk of catastrophic flooding in the southwestern U.S. and is expected to be the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years.

How severe is the rainfall associated with Hurricane Hilary?

The storm’s heavy rainfall is deemed “catastrophic and life-threatening.” Meteorologists warn of potential flash floods, mudslides, and isolated tornadoes across the affected regions.

Has Hurricane Hilary caused any fatalities?

Yes, one person tragically drowned in Santa Rosalia, Mexico, due to overflowing streams. While it’s not confirmed whether the death is hurricane-related, video footage shows flooding in the town’s streets.

How is Southern California preparing for the storm?

Southern California authorities have issued evacuation advisories, closed beaches, and warned residents about potential flash floods. Emergency measures include relocating homeless individuals, shutting down state beaches, and offering sandbags to residents.

What impact has Hurricane Hilary had on other regions?

The hurricane adds to a series of climate-related disasters. Historic wildfires in Canada, a deadly blaze in Hawaii, and ongoing blazes in the U.S. and Mexico exacerbate the challenges faced by these regions.

What precautions are officials taking for potential landslides and collapses?

In Tijuana, authorities are concerned about landslides and the collapse of homes on steep hillsides due to heavy rainfall. Residents are urged to take heed of any ground disturbances and act quickly if needed.

How is Mexico preparing for Hurricane Hilary’s impact?

Mexico’s navy evacuated individuals from Baja coast islands and deployed troops for emergency operations. Storm shelters have been set up, and police patrols aim to keep people away from dangerous surf in coastal areas.

How is the U.S. president responding to the hurricane threat?

President Joe Biden has been briefed on preparedness plans and urges residents in the storm’s path to heed state and local authorities’ guidance to stay safe.

What are the predicted outcomes as Hurricane Hilary approaches landfall?

The hurricane’s trajectory, despite weakening, still poses a substantial threat. It’s expected to bring intense rainfall, flooding, strong winds, and power outages, impacting regions across the southwestern U.S.

Are there any impacts on travel or scheduled events?

Travel and events have been affected by the impending storm. Major League Baseball rescheduled games, and rocket launches were delayed. Residents and travelers are advised to stay updated on any further disruptions.

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