California Braces for Rare Tropical Storm

Hurricane Hilary strengthens to Category 4, is expected to weaken before landfall
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2023 6:05 PM CDT
Updated Aug 18, 2023 5:54 AM CDT
For First Time in 84 Years, California Faces Tropical Storm
This satellite image taken at 10:50am EDT Thursday, provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows Hurricane Hilary off the Pacific coast of Mexico.   (NOAA via AP)

Hurricane Hilary is bearing down on California and the Southwest, driving the region to brace for heavy rain and strong winds. Hilary grew rapidly to Category 4 strength off Mexico's Pacific coast early Friday and it is expected to continue gaining strength before weakening Saturday. The storm "is not expected to be a hurricane on final approach," said Greg Postel, a hurricane and storm specialist for the Weather Channel, per CBS News. Even weakened a notch, Hilary would be the first tropical storm to make landfall in California in 84 years.

Forecasters say storm conditions could begin affecting Mexico's Baja California peninsula by late Friday, with Hilary expected to make landfall on the peninsula Sunday. The storm is projected to reach the US by late Sunday or early Monday, per NBC News, with the biggest threat being rainfall—possibly several months' worth in a day or two. That could lead to flash flooding in what is usually the region's driest month, though the storm's path could change on its way to California.

A tropical storm made landfall in Long Beach in 1939, California's only one in the 20th century, per the National Weather Service. "Whether it's a depression or a tropical storm, it doesn't matter," said Jamie Rhome of the National Hurricane Center, per the Los Angeles Times. "People need to be really thinking heavy rain and flood potential." (More Tropical Storm stories.)

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