Tropical Storm Hilary has brought heavy rain and flooding to Southern California.
Officials have warned of possibly fatal consequences as the state prepares for record-breaking rainfall. Hilary is the first tropical storm to make landfall in California since 1939.
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Aug. 19 in preparation for the storm. The governor noted that “threats of lightning and significant wind impacts with gusts up to or exceeding 70 miles per hour are anticipated in mountainous areas throughout Southern California and are likely to exacerbate fire conditions.”
“Numerous wildfires over the last several years have caused massive burn scars, exacerbating the potential for precipitation to cause dangerous and potentially catastrophic flooding and debris flows, and Hurricane Hilary is forecast to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain within a short period of time in Southern California,” stated Newsom. “Hurricane Hilary is expected to prompt widespread evacuations and shelter-in-place orders; to threaten, damage, or destroy homes and critical infrastructure, including power and water lines, businesses, and roads; and to necessitate the deployment of search and rescue teams in areas impacted by significant debris flow.”
The storm was downgraded from a Category 4 Hurricane after weakening before it reached the Baja peninsula on Aug. 20. Shortly after the storm reached the area, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded.
Newsom signed the order while visiting California National Guard troops in San Diego.
“California has thousands of people on the ground working hand-in-hand with federal and local personnel to support communities in Hurricane Hilary’s path with resources, equipment and expertise,” he said in a press release from his office. “We’re mobilizing all of government as we prepare and respond to this unprecedented storm.”
Several school districts in Los Angeles and San Diego canceled classes on Aug. 20, per NBC News.
The National Hurricane Center said that at 2:00 a.m. PDT the center of the storm was located near latitude 38.3 North, longitude 117.9 West and was moving north at approximately 29 mph.
“The center of post-tropical Hilary will move quickly across Nevada today,” warned the agency.
“Post-Tropical Hilary is expected to produce additional rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches, with isolated storm total amounts to 12 inches, across portions of Southern California and Southern Nevada through today. Continued flash and urban flooding, locally catastrophic, is expected,” the NHC continued. “Across portions of Oregon and Idaho, rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches with local maxima to 5 inches are expected through Tuesday morning, resulting in localized, some significant, flash flooding.”
The storm will impact an estimated 42 million Americans in Southern California.