A tropical storm watch is now in effect for certain areas of Southern California, including San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties.
This marks the first-ever instance of a tropical storm watch being issued for this region of the U.S., according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Hilary, which turned into a powerful Category 4 storm overnight and is swirling in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico, is carrying very strong winds of about 145 mph and is expected to approach Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on Saturday night as a hurricane.
The storm will substantially weaken into a tropical storm as it moves into the southwestern U.S. Forecasters expect a tropical storm with 50 mph winds may affect Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs.
The National Hurricane Center warns as much as 10 inches of rain may fall in places in California and Nevada from Sunday into Monday. The speed of the rainfall accumulation will increase the risk of flash flooding in the area, forecasters say, and warn residents to be ready to take action to protect life and property.
The last time a tropical storm made landfall in Southern California was in 1939, 84 years ago.
While NOAA predicts the storm will begin weakening by late Friday, its two potential paths remain the same for now.
The first one is tracking along Baja California, where the rugged mountain terrain might tear it apart. Then it could head into Southern California and continue northward, affecting areas like San Diego, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Reno.
The second path shows Hilary remaining offshore, skirting along the coast as a tropical storm, causing heavy rainfall from San Diego to Malibu. This is what could trigger widespread flash flooding and potential mudslides.
@scrippsnews The National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Watch for portions of Southern California today, the first time a watch has been issued for that region. #HurricaneHilary is expected to hit this weekend into early next week. #wx ♬ original sound - Scripps News
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