Southern California Faces Unprecedented Rainfall and Flooding from Historic Category 4 Hurricane Hilary

Southern California Faces Unprecedented Rainfall and Flooding from Historic Category 4 Hurricane Hilary

Southern California is currently grappling with the severe impact of what was once Hurricane Hilary, which has brought record-breaking rainfall, flooding, and mudslides to the region. Before making landfall, Hilary had strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane, but it weakened to a tropical storm prior to its arrival on Sunday. The storm has since been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, with expectations of further dissipation later in the day.

Despite its weakening status, the storm has had a significant impact on the region, breaking virtually all daily rainfall records in the area, as noted by the National Weather Service's Los Angeles office. With a gap of 84 years since the last tropical storm hit Southern California, the region has been ill-equipped to handle the severe weather conditions brought by Hilary.

The heavy rain has affected many parts of Southern California, including Palm Springs, which received nearly 3 inches of rain by Sunday evening. As a result of the storm, tens of thousands of people across Southern California have lost power, and Palm Springs lost 911 service on Sunday night.

Flooding has been a major concern, impacting many areas with rock and mudslides reported throughout the region. The National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center has issued flood watches for parts of Southern California, northwest Arizona, Nevada, southwest Utah, eastern Oregon, western and central Idaho, and southeast Washington. The center expects the storm to produce additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches across southeast California and southern Nevada through Monday, with isolated storm totals reaching up to 12 inches. As a result, continued flash and urban flooding is expected.

In addition to the flooding, 1 to 5 inches of rain are anticipated across portions of Oregon and Idaho through Tuesday morning, which could lead to localized and significant flash flooding.

As of 8 a.m. PDT Monday, Hilary was about 115 miles west-northwest of Elko, Nevada, moving north-northeast at 24 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. Despite no longer being categorized as a hurricane, the system is still bringing heavy rainfall to the area. Ahead of its arrival, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency, marking the first time the National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for Southern California.

In response to the storm, President Biden announced that FEMA would be deploying personnel and supplies to California, and the Coast Guard has pre-positioned aircraft to allow for rapid response and rescue efforts. Federal personnel were also deployed to Nevada to ensure the state has additional support.

Local institutions are taking precautions as well. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country, announced the closure of all schools, campuses, and after-school programs due to the storm. Similarly, the Pasadena Unified School District followed suit later on Sunday night. In anticipation of the storm, the California Department of Parks and Recreation temporarily closed all San Diego and Orange County state beaches and several state parks. The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Los Angeles Angels moved their scheduled Sunday home games to Saturday double-headers.

The impact of Hurricane Hilary has been significant, affecting the lives of countless residents in the Southern California region and neighboring areas. The record-breaking rainfall and resulting flooding serve as a reminder of the potential dangers posed by severe weather events and the importance of being prepared for such occurrences.

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