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Tropical Storm Hilary carries deluge to California after making landfall along Mexico’s Baja coast

by Michael Nguyen
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Tropical Storm Hilary

Tropical Storm Hilary brought a torrential downpour to California after making landfall on Mexico’s Baja coast, inundating streets with deadly floodwaters on Sunday. In Southern California, the storm carried heavy rain, and there were growing concerns about the potential for flash floods even reaching as far north as Idaho, a region unaccustomed to such intense rainfall.

Meteorologists identified Hilary as the first tropical storm to affect Southern California in 84 years, raising alarms about the possibility of flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, strong winds, and electrical outages.

The storm made its initial landfall along a thinly populated area of the Mexican coast, approximately 150 miles (250 kilometers) south of Ensenada. It continued on its way to Tijuana, posing a particular threat to vulnerable housing on hillsides just south of the U.S. border.

Flash flood warnings were in effect for at least nine million people, especially in typically dry Southern California, and desert and burn-scarred areas were particularly at risk. Highways were obstructed by mud, drainage systems were overwhelmed, and tree branches fell across areas stretching from San Diego to Los Angeles.

Western states faced the possibility of once-in-a-century rains, with Hilary potentially breaking records as the wettest known tropical cyclone to drench Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho. The storm was forecasted to continue as a tropical storm into central Nevada before dissipating early Monday.

Tropical Storm Hilary’s presence also had impacts on Major League Baseball, rescheduling three Sunday games in California. From a meteorological perspective, Hilary weakened from a Category 4 hurricane but still brought intense rain, with some areas expected to receive a year’s worth of rain in just a few hours.

A briefing from Miami’s Hurricane Center Director emphasized the risks of driving or walking through flooded areas, citing rainfall flooding as the primary cause of fatalities from tropical storms and hurricanes in the U.S. over the past decade.

Hilary’s destructive path is only the latest climate-related disaster to hit North America, coming in the wake of devastating wildfires in Hawaii and Canada.

Preparations for Hilary’s arrival included residents stocking up on sandbags and taking other precautions. Beaches were closed in the storm’s direct path, shelters were opened, and emergency measures were taken throughout the affected areas.

California’s Governor declared a state of emergency, and FEMA was prepared to provide assistance. Some residents, like surfers in Carlsbad, were determined to find opportunities within the chaos, while others took precautions against flooding and potential evacuations.

Tropical Storm Hilary left significant damage along the Baja peninsula, including washed-out roads and power outages. A tragic drowning incident occurred in the Mexican town of Santa Rosalia, and rainfall was expected to reach between 3 and 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) in various areas.

State officials responded by evacuating certain areas, providing shelters for the homeless, and closing state beaches. Local municipalities ran out of sandbags, and residents stockpiled necessary supplies.

National parks were closed to prevent visitors from becoming stranded, and President Joe Biden urged all those in the storm’s path to heed the advice of local officials.

Simultaneously, Tropical Storm Emily formed in the Atlantic Ocean, but it was located far from land.

The last time California faced a storm of this magnitude was in September 1939, when a tropical storm caused widespread devastation, resulting in nearly 100 deaths.

Reporting for this event was contributed by various correspondents including those from Ensenada, Mexico, St. Petersburg, Florida; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Mexico City; San Diego; and Los Angeles.

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

What areas were affected by Tropical Storm Hilary?

Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall along Mexico’s Baja coast and moved into Southern California, bringing torrential rain and concerns of flash floods as far north as Idaho. Western states including Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho were also at risk of record-breaking rains.

When did Tropical Storm Hilary hit Southern California?

Tropical Storm Hilary hit Southern California on Sunday, becoming the first tropical storm to affect the area in 84 years.

What kind of weather disturbances did Hilary bring?

Tropical Storm Hilary brought potential flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, high winds, and power outages to Southern California. In some areas, the storm threatened to deliver a year’s worth of rain in just a few hours.

Were there any casualties or significant damage reported?

Yes, one person drowned in the Mexican town of Santa Rosalia, and there was significant damage to roads, power lines, and other infrastructure up and down the Baja peninsula. California also faced washed-out highways, overwhelmed drainage systems, and fallen tree branches.

What precautions were taken in response to the storm?

Preparations included the closure of beaches, opening of shelters, declaration of a state of emergency in California, evacuation warnings, stocking up on sandbags, and federal assistance preparedness through FEMA.

How does Hilary compare to previous tropical storms in the region?

Hilary is the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years. The last comparable storm in California occurred in September 1939, resulting in nearly 100 deaths and extensive damage.

What did officials warn residents to avoid during the storm?

Officials, including the Hurricane Center Director, warned residents against driving or walking through flooded areas, as rainfall flooding has been the biggest cause of fatalities from tropical storms and hurricanes in the U.S. over the past decade.

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