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Hurricane Hilary on the Move: Mexico and California Brace for Impact

Hurricane Hilary
This satellite image taken at 10:50am EDT on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Hurricane Hilary off the Pacific coast of Mexico. (NOAA via AP)

Impending Hurricane Threatens Life-Threatening Flooding in Mexico and Southwestern United States

In a stark warning, the US National Hurricane Service has alerted to an imminent storm that could bring “life-threatening” flooding to regions of Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Named Hurricane Hilary, this formidable weather system is currently advancing toward Mexico’s Pacific coast, boasting winds reaching a staggering 130mph (215km/h). Landfall is predicted to occur later today, on Saturday.

Meteorologists anticipate that Hurricane Hilary will gradually lose intensity, transforming into a tropical storm as it progresses toward southern California. If this occurs, it would mark the first time a tropical storm has made landfall in California in over 80 years.

The National Hurricane Service, issuing its inaugural tropical storm warning for California, has issued a dire forecast, predicting “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” across Baja California, Mexico, and the southwestern United States in the next 48 hours.

US President Joe Biden confirmed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has proactively stationed personnel and resources in the affected areas. He urged residents in the storm’s path to heed the advice provided by local and state authorities.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has predicted the possibility of up to 10 inches (25cm) of rainfall in certain areas, leading to “significant and uncommon” consequences for portions of southern California and southern Nevada.

San Diego is under a flash flood warning, with the NWS noting a “high potential” for flash flooding. Nearly 26 million individuals in the southwestern United States are currently under flood watch.

As of 12:00 GMT on Saturday, Hurricane Hilary was situated approximately 300 miles (500km) west of the southern tip of Baja California, according to the National Hurricane Service.

Parts of Mexico have been placed on tropical storm alert, with the government mobilizing 18,000 soldiers to assist in potential rescue operations.

In response to the approaching storm, Major League Baseball has rescheduled three games in southern California, and SpaceX has postponed a rocket launch from its central California base until at least Monday.

Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve in California have also been closed by the National Park Service to prevent visitors from becoming stranded during possible flooding.

Local authorities in various cities across the region, including Arizona, are offering sandbags to residents seeking to protect their properties from potential floodwaters.

While Mexico is no stranger to hurricanes and tropical storms, the last time a tropical storm made landfall in southern California was in Long Beach in 1939.

Climate experts point to human-caused climate change as a contributing factor to the recent surge in extreme weather events across the United States and around the world. This year’s record-breaking July, as reported by NASA, was followed by a devastating wildfire in Hawaii in early August, claiming the lives of at least 111 people, exacerbated by hurricane-force winds.

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