Rain from Tropical Storm Hilary lashes California and Mexico, swamping roads and trapping cars

by Ryan Lee

Tropical Storm Hilary swept across Mexico’s dry Baja California Peninsula with lethal floods on Sunday before shifting to Southern California, where it overwhelmed roads and toppled trees. Fears escalated that flash floods could impact regions as distant as Idaho.

Hilary, the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, unleashed floods, mudslides, strong winds, power failures, and even isolated tornadoes. In some mountainous communities, the storm poured more than 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) of rain, threatening to dump more rain in the desert areas than they usually get in a year.

After making landfall 150 miles (250 kilometers) south of Ensenada, Mexico, in a sparsely populated region, Hilary moved through mudslide-prone Tijuana, endangering the makeshift homes clinging to the hillsides near the U.S. border. By Sunday night, the storm had traversed San Diego and was advancing into inland desert regions.

Warnings of significant flood risks were issued in California as the storm approached populous mountain areas along the coast northeast of Los Angeles.

Messages like “PLEASE… STAY OFF THE ROADS” were posted on platforms such as X, once known as Twitter, to caution residents about the severe weather.

The impacts of the storm included mud and boulders blocking highways, water rushing over roads, and tree branches falling from San Diego to Los Angeles. In places like Palm Desert, numerous vehicles were trapped in floodwaters. Emergency crews even had to pump out floodwater from Eisenhower Medical Center’s emergency room in Rancho Mirage.

Forecasts suggested that Hilary could bring once-in-a-century rains to other Western states, becoming the rainiest known tropical cyclone to soak Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho. The storm was projected to linger into central Nevada early Monday before dissipating.

Schools were affected, with Los Angeles Unified School District closing all campuses on Monday and San Diego schools delaying the first day from Monday to Tuesday. Officials emphasized that safety was paramount, and the uncertainty around building conditions and accessibility made it nearly impossible to commence schooling.

An unexpected 5.1 magnitude earthquake near Ojai, northwest of Los Angeles, added to the chaos, although no substantial damage or injuries were reported.

Governments and agencies across the affected regions took action, with California Gov. Gavin Newsom declaring a state of emergency, FEMA positioning teams and resources, and National Guard troops activated in Nevada.

President Joe Biden urged precaution and assured federal assistance, while local residents and officials prepared with sandbags and other measures.

Simultaneously, other weather systems were developing, including Tropical Storm Emily in the Atlantic Ocean and Tropical Storm Franklin in the eastern Caribbean.

The event brought to mind a similar tropical storm in September 1939, which devastated California and resulted in nearly 100 deaths.

Hilary’s assault is just the latest in a series of significant climate-related calamities affecting the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, from a deadly wildfire in Hawaii to Canada’s worst fire season on record. The storm’s effects extended beyond the immediate region, prompting the closing of beaches in Mexican cities and the deployment of the Mexican army to clear debris in affected areas.

Meanwhile, residents from all walks of life, from local officials to surfers, braced for the storm’s impact, some looking for opportunity amidst the chaos, while others took vital steps to shield their homes and loved ones from potential floodwaters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Tropical Storm Hilary

When and where did Tropical Storm Hilary make landfall?

Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall along the Mexican coast in a sparsely populated area about 150 miles (250 kilometers) south of Ensenada on Sunday, August 20, 2023.

What regions were affected by Tropical Storm Hilary?

Tropical Storm Hilary affected Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and Southern California, with concerns that its impact could reach as far north as Idaho. It also caused significant flooding, mudslides, power outages, and high winds in the affected regions.

Was Tropical Storm Hilary the first to hit Southern California in recent years?

Yes, Hilary was the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, making it a rare weather event for the region.

What were some of the significant impacts of the storm?

The storm caused deadly floodwaters, mudslides, high winds, power outages, and even isolated tornadoes. Roads were swamped, trees downed, and dozens of cars were trapped in floodwaters in areas like Palm Desert. Mud and boulders also blocked highways.

Were there any school closures due to Tropical Storm Hilary?

Yes, the Los Angeles Unified School District closed all campuses on Monday following the storm, and San Diego schools postponed the first day of classes from Monday to Tuesday.

Did the government take any emergency measures in response to Tropical Storm Hilary?

Yes, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency, FEMA positioned teams and resources, and Nevada’s Gov. Joe Lombardo activated 100 National Guard troops to assist with flooding problems.

Were there any other weather-related incidents occurring simultaneously with Tropical Storm Hilary?

Yes, Southern California experienced a 5.1 magnitude earthquake near Ojai, and there were also other developing weather systems including Tropical Storm Emily in the Atlantic Ocean and Tropical Storm Franklin in the eastern Caribbean.

How did residents prepare for the storm?

Residents prepared for Tropical Storm Hilary by stocking up on sandbags, following warnings and guidance from officials, and taking precautions to shield homes and loved ones from potential floodwaters.

Were there any casualties reported in Mexico due to the storm?

One person drowned in the Mexican town of Santa Rosalia when a vehicle was swept away in an overflowing stream on Saturday, before the storm’s landfall.

More about fokus keyword Tropical Storm Hilary

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Derrick J. August 21, 2023 - 7:09 am

anyone else feel that earthquake near Ojai? as if the storm wasn’t enough, 2023 has been wild!

SurfDude91 August 21, 2023 - 8:25 am

Waves were insane yesterday, too choppy to surf but me and the guys are hitting the beach today. Wish us luck.

Sarah'sMom August 21, 2023 - 8:53 am

My kids school was closed today becuse of the storm, totally threw off our schedule, but safety first I guess.

Jenny O. August 21, 2023 - 12:07 pm

i cant beleive how much rain we got in Palm Desert, never seen anything like this before. stay safe everyone!

Mike_42 August 21, 2023 - 4:56 pm

Wow! 84 years since the last tropical storm here in SoCal. That’s crazy. Hilary’s really makin a mess of things…

EnvironmentWatcher August 21, 2023 - 10:14 pm

It’s just another sign of changing climate. Major weather events like this happening more often. we need to wake up people!

LocalResident_TJ August 22, 2023 - 12:24 am

The situation here in Tijuana was pretty scary, lots of mudslides. Soldiers and emergency personnel were very helpful, thx to all.


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