Tropical Storm Hilary hitting Southern California as Southwest braces


Southern California and the Southwest were preparing for possible “catastrophic and life-threating flooding” as Tropical Storm Hilary continued north after making landfall in the northern part of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on Sunday. Flooding and some mud and rock slides were already reported.

Hilary is the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years.

Hilary had strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm prior to making landfall. The storm is still expected to bring heavy rainfall along its path through Monday morning, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

“The potentially historic amount of rainfall is expected to cause life-threatening to catastrophic flash, urban, and arroyo flooding including landslides, mudslides, and debris flows through early Monday morning,” the NHC said.

Thousands of people across Southern California had no power due to the storm, which not only brought heavy rain to the area, but high-powered winds, and the Palm Springs community had no 911 service, CBS News Los Angeles reported.

Latest storm coverage from CBS Los AngelesWhere is flooding expected?

The NHC says, “Intense heavy rainfall associated with Hilary is expected across the Southwestern United States through early Monday morning. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches, are expected across portions of southern California and southern Nevada, leading to dangerous to catastrophic flooding.”

What’s more, parts of Oregon and Idaho could get 1 to 3 inches of rain with up to 5 inches in  some places through Tuesday “resulting in localized (and) some significant flash flooding.”

In Nevada, officials remain concerned about dangerous flooding across the western Mojave Desert, which is at high risk for flash flooding, “an exceedingly rare occurrence,” NWS Las Vegas said Sunday on social media.

Southern California is experiencing heavy rain in Los Angeles and surrounding counties, with heavy downpours expected between 3 p.m. today and 3 a.m. Monday morning, CBS News Los Angeles reported.

In California, evacuation orders have been issued for San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Evacuation warnings were issued in Orange County, according to CBS News Los Angeles

Meanwhile, the Inland Empire and mountains are at a high risk of flash flooding, with some communities expected to get 6-10 inches of rain, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Among many dramatic scenes playing out as Hilary hit:

How is Southern California dealing  with Hilary?

As of  2 a.m. ET Monday, Hilary was some 75 miles northeast of Bakersfield, Calif. and racing north-northwest at 28 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

Although no longer a hurricane, the system was still bringing heavy rainfall to the area.

It is the first time that the National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for Southern California, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.

President Biden on Sunday said he has asked FEMA to deploy personnel and supplies to California. Mr. Biden also said the Coast Guard has pre-positioned aircraft to allow for rapid response and rescue efforts.

“My Administration also deployed federal personnel to Nevada to ensure the state has additional support, and we will continue to coordinate with California, Nevada, and Arizona on any resources they might need,” Biden said.

Evacuees from Catalina Island arrive in Long Beach, California, after leaving due to Hurricane Hilary. Aug. 19, 2023.  / Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Evacuees from Catalina Island arrive in Long Beach, California, after leaving due to Hurricane Hilary. Aug. 19, 2023. / Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

On Sunday evening, Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the country, announced all schools, campuses and after-school programs would be closed Monday due to the storm.

“This was not an easy decision,” the district said on social media. “Los Angeles Unified acknowledges the unique, unprecedented nature of Tropical Storm Hilary, which has garnered city, county, and state declarations of emergency.”

Pasadena Unified School District followed suit later Sunday night.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation on Saturday ordered a temporary closure of all San Diego and Orange County state beaches and several state parks.

Disneyland announced Saturday that parks would be closing early Sunday, with Disney California Adventure Park closing at 9 p.m., Disneyland Park closing at 10 p.m. and the Downtown Disney District will close at 11 p.m.

The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels all moved their scheduled Sunday home games to Saturday double-headers in anticipation of the storm.

When will Hilary hit Las Vegas?

Nevada will see heavy rain into Monday morning with likely flooding in Las Vegas and “significant flooding” in Death Valley National Park, the Weather Channel reported.

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo declared a state of emergency Sunday afternoon due to the “imminent impact” of Tropical Storm Hily across the state. “Significant damage to public and private property are likely, including multiple transportation routes,” the declaration read.

That came days after he announced that 100 National Guard troops had been activated ahead of the tropical storm.

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