Hurricane Hilary: Catastrophic, life-threatening flooding expected in Southwest US through Monday

A rare Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from Los Angeles to the U.S.-Mexico border and includes the coastal region of San Diego.

As of Saturday at 7:30 A.M. ET, Hurricane Hilary is a Category 4 Hurricane barreling toward the Southwestern U.S. Continuous coverage has moved here.

Hurricane Hilary underwent rapid intensification in the Pacific Ocean, strengthening from a tropical storm to a large Category 4 hurricane in less than 48 hours, but its strengthening trend has come to an end as it makes its final approach on the Mexican coastline.

While Hilary won't impact the U.S. at hurricane strength, the Baja California Peninsula and the southwestern U.S. will feel the after-effects, with dangerous flooding and fierce winds as the main threats.

"Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding likely over Baja California and the Southwestern U.S. through Monday," the National Hurricane Center (NHC said)in their latest advisory

Forecasters warn of the potential for historic flooding with a year's worth of rainfall occurring within a couple of days.


Where is Hurricane Hilary?

The center of Hurricane Hilary is moving toward the north-northwest at 13 mph. A turn toward to north and an increase in forward speed is expected on Saturday, according to the NHC.

The center of Hilary will move close to the west coast of the Baja California Peninsula over the weekend and reach Southern California by Sunday night.


Current information about Hurricane Hilary.
(FOX Weather)


Are there any weather alerts for Hurricane Hilary?

A rare Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for from near Los Angeles to the U.S.-Mexico border, including Catalina Island. According to the NHC, this is the first time the agency has issued a warning for this region.

Much of San Diego, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Ventura counties are included in the warning. The inland alerts cover cities such as Riverside, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, Victorville, Pine Valley, and Santa Clarita.

A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when tropical-storm-force winds (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the alerted area within 36 hours.

Current information about Hurricane Hilary.
(FOX Weather)


Hilary has also prompted the Mexican government to issue a series of watches and warnings for the entire Baja California Peninsula and parts of mainland Mexico.

A Hurricane Warning is issued when hurricane-force winds (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected within the watch area, within 36 hours.

These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding and/or river flooding.


Watches and warnings
(FOX Weather)


What is the forecast for Hurricane Hilary?

Maximum sustained winds are at 130 mph with higher gusts. Weakening is expected to continue into Saturday, but Hilary will still be a hurricane when it approaches the West Coast of the Baja California Peninsula on Saturday night and Sunday, the NHC said.

Forecast cone
(FOX Weather)


Hilary is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by Sunday afternoon before it reaches southern California.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 265 miles.


What are the impacts of Hurricane Hilary?

Hurricane Hilary is expected to bring 3-6 inches of rainfall and up to 10 inches in isolated areas across parts of Baja California by Sunday night, warned the NHC. Flash flooding may occur. Across portions of the western U.S., rainfall totals of 1-3 inches are expected, but forecast models show upwards of 5 inches is possible in some areas through Wednesday.

Rainfall forecast
(FOX Weather)


Heavy rainfall associated with Hilary may produce areas of flash flooding and result in landslides over portions of the Baja California Peninsula from late Friday until late Sunday, the NHC said.

Rainfall impacts from Hilary within the southwestern U.S. are expected to peak this weekend into Monday. Flooding is expected with the potential for significant impacts.

NOAA's Weather Prediction Center has issued a rare High Risk for excessive rainfall in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. This is the first time such a risk has been given for the low desert regions of Southern California to the east of the mountain ranges.

The threat of hurricane-force wind impacts is increasing along the west-central coast of the Baja California Peninsula, where a Hurricane Watch is in effect. Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin across the southern portion of the Baja California Peninsula later Friday and then spread north through the weekend.


Flash flood threat
(FOX Weather)


The threat of significant wind impacts continues to increase for the northern portions of the Baja California Peninsula and the southwestern U.S., especially in areas of mountainous terrain. 

Large swells from Hilary will spread north along southwestern Mexico and the Baja California Peninsula. These swells will reach the Gulf of California and northern portions of the Baja California peninsula later this weekend.

Airlines issue travel waivers for passengers flying to Mexico, California

Several U.S. airlines have announced travel waivers for passengers flying either to Mexico or California.

Jet Blue, American, Alaska, Delta and United are encouraging passengers to check their itinerary for changes before flying to the region.

United Airlines has expanded travel waivers for cities throughout the Golden State which included: Bakersfield (BFL), Burbank (BUR), Los Angeles (LAX), Ontario (ONT) Palm Springs, (PSP), San Diego (SAN), Santa Barbara (SBA), San Luis Obispo (SBP) and, Orange County (SNA).

Major sporting events impacted by the threat of Hilary

Both Major League Baseball and the National Football League are monitoring the cyclone's future movements.

The MLB has adjusted times of games in both Los Angeles and San Diego to avoid matches happening on Sunday.

And the NFL is monitoring the weather due to a preseason game slated to take place on Sunday evening between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

Hurricane Hilary impacting space launch operations from California

Due to the proximity of the hurricane to the water off of Southern California, SpaceX allotted to postpone the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with Starlink satellites.

The event was expected to take place on Friday morning, but the private space company said it would attempt another launch next week, if weather conditions improved. 

Weather conditions at Vandenberg Space Force Base north of Los Angeles were in the 60s with minimal wind on Thursday, but Elon Musk's SpaceX said it needed calmer seas in Pacific to ensure safe recovery operations of the booster.