Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall over Mexico's Baja California peninsula on Sunday, marking the first tropical storm to hit Southern California since 1939. The storm, which had weakened from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm, prompted flash flood warnings in the areas surrounding Los Angeles. The National Weather Service (NWS) predicted that the storm would bring "catastrophic and life-threatening" flooding to the region, as well as impact the southwestern U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement confirming that federal government officials are providing resources to impacted states and urged people to take the storm seriously.
The storm was captured in satellite images taken by the GOES satellite, showing Tropical Storm Hilary approaching the California coast. The NWS also took to social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) to announce flash flood warnings in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Glendale until 3 a.m. local time. In response to the storm, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that schools would be closed on Monday.
Video footage obtained by Fox News Digital showed the Malibu Search and Rescue Team of the LA County's Sheriff's Department performing a hoist rescue of a fisherman who had fallen over a rocky embankment during the storm. Additionally, Eisenhower Medical Center in Riverside County experienced flooding, and a tornado warning was issued for San Diego County, where power outages were reported. Fox Weather reported that the worst of the flooding in Southern California and the Southwest was expected to occur late Sunday.
The impact of the storm extended beyond California, as Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo declared a state of emergency for Clark, Mohave, and Nye Counties. The storm was anticipated to bring flooding to these areas, prompting Lombardo to urge residents to prepare and follow guidance from state and local emergency officials. Western Arizona residents, particularly those in Mohave County, were also preparing for the storm, with the Mohave County Sheriff's Office announcing an evacuation for parts of Lake Mead National Park. Residents in the Temple Bar and Willow Beach areas were asked to move to higher elevations.
Rainfall was considered the biggest hazard associated with the storm, with increasing rainfall reported across southern California, including the Los Angeles basin and portions of southeastern California's desert. National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Michael Brennan stated that the center of the storm was expected to move northward out of Baja California and into southern California over the next 18 to 24 hours. Brennan expressed concern over the potential for life-threatening flash flooding, particularly in the deserts between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The storm also impacted Mexico, with the cities of Ensenada and Tijuana directly in the storm's path. Despite weakening, Hilary remained treacherous, and meteorologists warned of its continued potential to cause damage. One person drowned in the Mexican town of Santa Rosalia, and rescue workers were able to save four others from overflowing streams. The storm was expected to make history as the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, bringing with it flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, high winds, and power outages.
Preparations were underway across the affected regions, with California Governor Gavin Newsom signing an emergency declaration in anticipation of the storms. Thousands of personnel, including California Highway Patrol members and Caltran workers, were activated in southern California. Newsom urged residents to take alerts of flash floods, lightning, and the possibility of tornadoes seriously. In Tijuana, beaches were closed, and storm shelters were set up to protect residents. Mexico's navy evacuated hundreds of people from islands off the Baja coast and deployed thousands of troops for emergency operations.
Authorities in Los Angeles worked to evacuate the homeless and closed state beaches in San Diego and Orange counties. Sandbags became scarce, and grocery shelves emptied out as residents stocked up on supplies. The National Park Service closed Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve to prevent visitors from becoming stranded in flooding. Major League Baseball rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California to Saturday, and SpaceX delayed a satellite-carrying rocket launch until at least Monday.
As Tropical Storm Hilary approached, the concerns and preparations were evident in the affected areas. With flash flood warnings, evacuations, and the potential for significant damage, residents and officials alike were focused on mitigating the storm's impact and ensuring the safety of those in its path.
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