Weakened Hilary Still Poses Threat to Southern California

Tropical Storm Hilary inundated parts of Southern California, from its coastline to its inland terrains and deserts, on a recent Sunday night. This caused swift water rescues and led to some of the country’s most prominent school districts suspending Monday’s classes. As the storm’s potency diminished, residents still prepared for potential floods and landslides.

Remarkably, this was the first tropical storm Southern California experienced in 84 years. It poured torrential rains, and locations like the desert city of Palm Springs received almost 3 inches of rain within a day. This is over half the typical annual rainfall for some areas in a single day.

Flash flood alerts were raised for places including Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. In response to the flooding San Diego River, fire officials rescued around 12 individuals from a homeless area. The heavy downpour also resulted in roads being submerged and cars being abandoned in stagnant waters. To address the flooding at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, teams worked diligently to pump out the water.

Hilary first struck Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula before it unleashed its force on California. The storm then passed through Tijuana, a region susceptible to mudslides, jeopardizing the makeshift homes on the hilly outskirts near the U.S. boundary.

While the storm’s intensity was forecasted to lessen as it shifted northward over California and towards Nevada, experts still warned of potential risks. Richard Pasch, an expert from the National Hurricane Center, anticipated Hilary would transition to a “post-tropical cyclone” by Monday but still warned of heavy rains and gusty winds.

Due to safety concerns, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the country, along with other districts, announced closures for Monday. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho emphasized the importance of safety during a press conference.

A separate event that day was an earthquake near Ojai, about 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles, registering a preliminary 5.1 magnitude. Thankfully, no severe injuries or damages were reported.

These climate-related calamities are not isolated. Hawaii’s Maui island is grappling with a devastating fire, which caused over 100 fatalities. Meanwhile, firefighters in Canada are combating the country’s most aggressive fire season on record.

Back in Mexico, as Hilary approached, a person tragically lost their life in Santa Rosalia due to a flash flood. Mexican military personnel spread across Mulege, a severely impacted area, assisting in cleanup and restoration efforts.

In contrast, some Californians remained undeterred. In Carlsbad, near San Diego, Jack Johnson, a 19-year-old local, and his friends eagerly anticipated surfing the stormy waves.

On another note, the National Hurricane Center reported the formation of Tropical Storm Emily in the Atlantic and Tropical Storm Franklin in the Caribbean.

Reflecting on history, a devastating tropical storm in September 1939 wreaked havoc in California, causing significant damage and nearly 100 deaths.