Hurricane Hilary Barrels Toward Southern California


Heavy rainfall, strong winds and life-threatening surf conditions are expected for the Southwest Sunday as experts predict Hurricane Hilary will shift into a tropical storm by the time it reaches southern California, which would mark a historic and nearly unprecedented weather threat for the region.

Key Facts

The tropical storm watch that was in effect for southern California was upgraded to a tropical storm warning Friday night, the first time such a warning has ever been issued for the region.

The National Weather Service expects heavy rainfall to begin and later increase in southern California Saturday, far ahead of the storm’s center, with parts of the area potentially experiencing 3 to 6 inches of rain and as many as 10 inches in other regions.

The heavy rain will potentially last into Monday, according to the National Weather Service, which could lead to “locally catastrophic flooding impacts” and potentially dump more rain onto desert cities than they typically experience in a full year, on average.

It won’t be until Sunday that tropical storm conditions are expected to materialize in southern California, with the NWS noting a fair likelihood of strong, gusty winds and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The NWS advises those within the affected regions to prepare an emergency kit, strengthen their homes and review insurance policies ahead of the inclement weather.


Hurricanes such as Hilary are rare in California, as the state hasn’t seen a tropical storm make landfall on the coast since hurricane records started in 1949. Prior to that, Los Angeles was the site of one of the state’s rarest storms in 1939 when a tropical storm known as El Cordonazo tore through Los Angeles, resulting in nearly 100 fatalities and millions of dollars worth of damages.

Key Background

Hurricane Hilary strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane Friday and continues to move off the coast of Baja California. President Joe Biden told reporters in Maryland Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is ready to respond to the hurricane with pre-positioned personnel and supplies in the region. Although Hilary’s largest impact in the U.S. will be felt in southern California, other areas such as northern California, Nevada and Oregon and Idaho are expected to experience rainfall into Monday.

Further Reading

Here’s Just How Rare West Coast Hurricanes—Like Hilary—Really Are (Forbes)

Hurricane Hilary Causes California’s 1st Ever Tropical Storm Watch—What About 1939? (Forbes)

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