Southern California prepares for more floods as post-Tropical Storm Hilary brings more rain

by Lucas Garcia
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Southern California is bracing for additional floods as the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary brings more rain to the region. The storm inundated dry areas of Mexico and then soaked Southern California from the coastline to Palm Springs and the inland mountains. Rescuers were compelled to save multiple individuals from swollen rivers due to the heavy rainfall. Even as the storm diminishes along the coast, it is anticipated that there will be flooding and mudslides across parts of the southwestern United States.

Initially, Tropical Storm Hilary hit the arid Baja California Peninsula in Mexico, causing flooding in sparsely populated areas. It subsequently moved through Tijuana, a region prone to mudslides, and posed a threat to homes constructed on the hillsides near the U.S. border.

This marks the first time in 84 years that a tropical storm has struck Southern California. Hilary delivered an amount of rain that surpassed half of the average annual precipitation in certain areas. For instance, Palm Springs received nearly 3.18 inches of rain by Sunday evening.

The National Hurricane Center reclassified Hilary as a post-tropical storm in its early Monday advisory, but still cautioned about the potential for life-threatening flooding and mudslides in parts of the southwestern U.S. Coastal warnings were lifted.

Weather forecasters issued warnings about the risk of flash floods in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Firefighters rescued 13 people from the rising San Diego River, where a homeless encampment was situated in knee-deep water. Rain and debris caused road closures, leaving some cars stranded in standing water. Efforts were made to pump floodwaters out of the emergency room at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.

San Diego experienced its wettest day on record, with 1.82 inches of rain, surpassing the previous record set in 1977 by post-Hurricane Doreen.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as other districts in the region, announced the closure of all campuses on Monday due to the weather conditions. In addition, the start of classes in San Diego was postponed by a day.

Emergency services faced challenges as 911 lines were down in Palm Springs, prompting authorities to encourage residents to reach out via text message or visit nearby police or fire stations.

Although the storm was expected to weaken as it moved northward through California and into Nevada, experts still warned of heavy rain and strong winds.

In an unexpected turn, Southern California was hit by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on Sunday afternoon, centered near Ojai. The earthquake was widely felt and followed by smaller aftershocks, but no major damage or injuries were immediately reported.

Tropical Storm Hilary is the latest in a series of severe climate-related disasters affecting the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. These include wildfires in Hawaii and Canada, as well as a devastating blaze in Maui.

As the storm approached Mexico, one fatality occurred due to a vehicle being swept away by a swollen stream, and rescue efforts were put in place to help those affected.

The storm systems in the Atlantic Ocean also saw developments, with one becoming Tropical Storm Emily and another becoming Tropical Storm Franklin. These systems prompted storm watches to be issued for certain coastal areas.

Reflecting on history, a tropical storm in 1939 had catastrophic impacts on California, causing significant destruction and resulting in numerous fatalities both on land and at sea.

Reporting on this event came from various sources including Ensenada, Mexico; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; St. Petersburg, Florida; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Mexico City; San Diego; Los Angeles; and Phoenix.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Floods

What is the cause of the floods in Southern California?

The floods in Southern California are caused by the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary, which brought heavy rainfall to the region.

How did Tropical Storm Hilary impact the area?

Tropical Storm Hilary deluged arid parts of Mexico and then drenched Southern California, causing rivers to swell, roads to flood, and prompting rescues.

Was this the first time Southern California experienced such heavy rainfall?

No, this marked the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, dropping an unusually large amount of rain in the region.

Were there any casualties or injuries due to the storm?

One person drowned in Mexico as a result of the storm, and rescue workers were able to save others. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1 also occurred, but no major damage or injuries were reported.

Were there any warnings or precautions taken in response to the storm?

Yes, authorities issued warnings about flash floods, leading to the closure of schools and evacuation of some areas. Emergency services provided guidance for communication in case of 911 outages.

What were the impacts on education and transportation?

Schools in the region closed due to the storm, and some roadways were washed out or blocked by debris, leaving cars stranded in standing water.

How did the storm affect the healthcare system?

Floodwaters entered the emergency room at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, necessitating efforts to pump out the water.

What other weather events were occurring at the same time?

In addition to Tropical Storm Hilary, there were developments in the Atlantic Ocean, with the formation of Tropical Storms Emily and Franklin, prompting storm watches in certain areas.

How did this event compare to historical storms?

This event marked the first tropical storm hitting Southern California in decades, and it brought back memories of a historical tropical storm in 1939 that caused significant destruction.

What is the forecast for the storm’s trajectory?

Although the storm was projected to weaken as it moved northward, experts warned of continued heavy rain and strong winds in the affected areas.

More about Floods

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