Tropical Storm Kay is impacting parts of Southern California with gusty winds and rains, but the impacts from the system are expected to diminish through the weekend.
Kay weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm Thursday evening after interacting with the Baja Peninsula for much of the day and then encountering cooler waters in the Eastern Pacific.
As of Friday afternoon, Tropical Storm Kay's maximum estimated sustained winds were estimated at 40 mph, and the center of the storm was located less than 150 miles south of San Diego, California.
The forecast track from the National Hurricane Center shows Tropical Storm Kay generally moving west-northwestward through Saturday before turning to the west by Saturday night.
On this path, Kay's center of circulation will move parallel to the coast of Mexico's northwestern Baja California Peninsula through the weekend. As it does so, the tropical storm is expected to weaken, and Kay will likely become a remnant area of low pressure at some point on Saturday.
Tropical-storm-force winds (40-plus mph) were reported throughout Mexico's Baja California on Thursday as Kay skirted the peninsula's Pacific coastline.
Heavy rainfall also spread across the Baja Peninsula on Thursday, and by the time the tropical storm moves out of the region, some areas could pick up 6 to 10 inches of rain with isolated maximum amounts up to 15 inches.
The heaviest rainfall could lead to flash flooding, including landslides across mountainous areas of Mexico.
Kay to spread heavy rain and high winds across Southern California and southwestern Arizona
While Tropical Storm Kay will not make landfall in California, it will be close enough to the Golden State to bring significant impacts to southern parts of the state, including the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, Kay is forecast to produce heavy rain and high winds across Southern California and southwestern Arizona on Friday and Saturday as the center of the storm slides north, sending a surge of tropical moisture into the region.
"It is not expected to make a direct landfall to Southern California, but it will spread its tropical moisture into the region throughout the day today into tomorrow ," FOX Weather meteorologist Jane Minar said. "We're mostly concerned with Southern California along that I-8 corridor into extreme southwestern Arizona. That's where we could see the greatest threat for flooding."
Due to the threat of flooding rainfall, Flood Watches have been issued for portions of Southern California, southwestern Arizona and extreme southern Nevada through Saturday evening.
Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches, with isolated maximum totals between 6 and 8 inches, are possible through Saturday across these areas covered by Flood Watches.
This amount of rain is likely to produce flash flooding and small-stream flooding in some locations, especially near recent burn scars and along the eastern slopes of the Southern California mountains.
"The heaviest rain today is really from Palm Springs all the way to Barstow," FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin said. "As we get into Saturday, that's when the rain is going to be lifting north. Kay is, at that point, just going to be an area of low pressure – a remnant low moving off to the open Pacific – but that moisture fetch will still be there, spreading those showers all the way up into the Sierra."
The National Weather Service in San Diego reported that a wind gust of 109 mph was measured at Cuyamaca Peak in the San Diego Mountains on Friday morning.
Unfortunately, the strong winds have arrived before the heavy rain, and that could increase the fire danger in California which already has nearly a dozen wildfires burning across the state.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, wind gusts could top 70 mph in the mountains, with gusts between 40 and 60 mph expected in the valleys. These high winds will have the potential to knock down trees and power lines, which could result in power outages.
Tropical Storm Kay is also expected to churn up the surf along the beaches of Southern California, leading to the development of life-threatening rip currents.
"Tropical System Kay will bring increased surf, an increased risk of strong rip currents, and potential for minor coastal flooding and beach erosion to the coastline south of Point Conception starting Friday," the National Weather Service in Los Angeles noted in a forecast discussion. "Surf should peak on Saturday, with the largest waves affecting south-facing beaches of Ventura and LA Counties and Catalina Island."
Conditions in California will improve by Sunday as Tropical Storm Kay turns west and southwestward, moving farther away from the Pacific coastline.
The good news is that the increased cloud cover from Kay will allow the historic days-long extreme heat event in California to finally come to an end.