Powerful Hurricane Hillary is heading to Baja, Mexico. Rare California Tropical Storm Watch Edition
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) – Hurricane Hillary lashed off Mexico’s Pacific coast Friday as a powerful Category 4 storm threatened to unleash torrential rains on the mudslide-prone border city of Tijuana before heading into Southern California as the first tropical storm there in 84 years.
Forecasters have warned that the storm could cause severe flooding, mudslides and even tornadoes across the region.
Hillary grew rapidly early Friday before losing some strength, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) in the evening, after gusting from 145 mph (230 kph). However, it was forecast to remain a hurricane when approaching Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on Saturday night and a tropical storm when approaching southern California on Sunday.
Hillary was already disrupting life.
Major League Baseball rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California, moving them to Saturday as part of a doubleheader game. The National Park Service has closed Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve to prevent people from becoming caught up in the floods. Cities across the region, including in Arizona, have been offering sandbags to protect properties from floodwaters.
No tropical storm has made landfall in Southern California since Sept. 25, 1939, according to the National Weather Service. The watch is spread over a wide area of Southern California from the coast to the mountains and deserts of the interior. The US National Hurricane Center warned of potential threats to life and property.
The latest forecast indicated Hillary’s landfall along a sparsely populated area of the Baja Peninsula on Sunday, about 200 miles (330 kilometers) south of the Pacific coastal city of Ensenada.
As it moves north, it could cause heavy rains in Tijuana. Montserrat Mayor Caballero Ramirez said the city is closely tracking the storm and cleaning up storm drains.
The sprawling border city of 1.9 million people is at particular risk of landslides and flooding, in part because of its mountainous terrain. The huts are perched on the slopes with little vegetation to hold the soil in place. In addition, scores of people live under tarps in the streets and in canals in flood areas, including migrants who arrive daily from different parts of the world.
Caballero Ramirez said the city has set up four shelters in high-risk areas and is warning residents in dangerous areas.
“We are a city at risk for being on one of the most visited borders in the world and because of our landscape,” she said.
Mexico issued a tropical storm to monitor parts of mainland Mexico and put 18,000 troops on alert.
On Friday evening, Hillary was stationed about 310 miles (495 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, near the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. It was moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph) and was expected to turn more to the north.
Some Cabo San Lucas schools are being equipped as temporary shelters, said Flora Aguilar, a city official.
In La Paz, the picturesque capital of Baja California Sur state on the Sea of Cortez, police patrolled closed beaches to keep swimmers out of the waves. Schools have been closed in five municipalities.
The National Weather Service office in San Diego said it’s increasingly likely that Hillary will arrive in California early Monday while still at tropical storm strength, though heavy rains are expected to start as early as Saturday.
Hurricane officials said the storm could bring heavy rainfall to the southwestern United States, dumping 3 to 6 inches (8-15 cm) in places, isolated amounts of up to 10 inches (25 cm), in parts of Southern California and Southern California. nv. .
“Nobody has heard of two to three inches of precipitation in Southern California” for this time of year, said Christine Corpuzero, a University of Albany atmospheric scientist who specializes in Pacific hurricanes. “That’s the amount of precipitation that’s likely to fall each summer and fall in six to 12 hours.”
The region could experience rain once in a century, and there’s a good chance Nevada will break the all-time rainfall record, said meteorologist Jeff Masters of Yale Climate Connections and a former government meteorologist on the trip.
President Joe Biden said the Federal Emergency Management Agency had pre-allocated personnel and supplies to the area.
“I urge everyone, everyone in the path of this storm, to take precautions and to listen to the guidance of state and local officials,” Biden told reporters Friday at Camp David, where he will meet the leaders of Japan and South Korea.
Los Angeles Police Department deputies announced warnings about public address systems and urged homeless people living in riverbeds and other potentially dangerous areas to move to shelters before the storm hit.
Officials told a news conference in the afternoon that the city’s authorities are also helping to arrange food, cots and shelters for those who need them.
Planning has been underway for several days, which included evacuation plans for the tourist destination of Santa Catalina Island, just off the coast, said Janice Hahn, chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
“I don’t think any of us — I know me especially — ever thought I’d be standing here talking about a hurricane or a tropical storm,” Hahn said.
Officials in Southern California have been reintroducing sand barriers, built to protect low-lying coastal communities from winter surf, as in Huntington Beach, which calls itself “Surf City USA.”
In nearby Newport Beach, Tanner Atkinson waited in a line of vehicles to get free sandbags at a city distribution point.
“I mean, a lot of people here are excited because the waves are going to get really heavy,” Atkinson said. “But I mean, there’s going to be some rain, so there’s usually some flooding and landslides and things like that.”
SpaceX has delayed the launch of a rocket carrying satellites from a base on the Central Coast of California until at least Monday. The company said conditions in the Pacific could make it difficult for the ship to recover the booster.
Storms don’t usually hit southern California because prevailing winds usually push them either westward into the open ocean or northeastward into Mexico and other parts of the southwestern United States, according to experts.
“Almost all of them go out to sea. That’s why we never hear about them,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of hurricanes at MIT.
This is unlikely to happen with Hillary mostly because of the high-pressure heat dome that is expected to bring in triple-digit heat indices in the Midwest and block the east turn, Masters said.
Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Seth Bornstein in Washington, Maria Verza and Mark Stephenson in Mexico City, John Antzac in Los Angeles, and Eugene Garcia in Newport Beach, Calif., contributed to this report.