Tropical Storm Hilary is on an escalating trajectory, poised to transform into a hurricane in a matter of hours off the southwestern coast of Mexico. Meteorologists are cautioning that the impending large storm carries the potential for noteworthy repercussions across sections of Southern California and the Southwest, commencing this weekend. The looming threat arises as the deluge of heavy rainfall could trigger the risk of flooding.
In its most recent advisory, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) elucidates, “Hilary has the potential to bring significant impacts to the Baja California Peninsula and portions of the southwestern United States this weekend and early next week, including after it becomes post-tropical.”
A tropical storm is classified when its maximum sustained winds reach or exceed 39 mph, with parallels to other tropical depressions and hurricanes suggesting that its consequences can be impactful. But where precisely does Tropical Storm Hilary currently position itself?
Hilary’s Location and Progression
Presently, Tropical Storm Hilary is positioned approximately 330 miles south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and about 620 miles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Its trajectory entails a west-northwest motion at a speed of 13 mph.
The storm has attained maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, accompanied by heightened gusts. The NHC anticipates rapid intensification, projecting that Hilary will shortly attain hurricane status and potentially escalate into a major hurricane, reaching Category 3 strength or beyond, by Thursday night or early Friday.
Path and Forecast of the Tempest
The NHC forecasts a shift in the trajectory of Tropical Storm Hilary. While it is presently headed on a west-northwest path, a shift towards the northwest is anticipated by Friday morning. Subsequently, the trajectory is projected to incline towards the north-northwest and further north by Saturday.
If this prediction holds true, Tropical Storm Hilary will approach the Baja California peninsula over the ensuing weekend.
Vulnerable Areas and Vigilant Preparations
The Mexican government has not taken the looming threat lightly. Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the southern segment of Baja California Sur, spanning from Cabo San Lazaro on the west coast to San Evaristo on the east coast. These alerts indicate the potential for tropical storm-force winds, ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph, within the watch area within the next 48 hours.
Anticipating the situation’s evolution, the NHC suggests the likelihood of additional Tropical Storm Watches or Warnings being disseminated later on Thursday.
The tempestuous activity surrounding Tropical Storm Hilary extends its reach far beyond its epicenter. Mighty swells generated by the storm are expected to impact the coast of southwestern Mexico as well as the Baja California Peninsula over the coming days. This development, according to the NHC, harbors the potential to trigger perilous surf conditions and rip currents that pose life-threatening risks.
An Inevitable Showdown: Tropical Storm Hilary and the U.S.-Mexico Border
As Tropical Storm Hilary edges closer to the U.S.-Mexico border, a palpable surge of tropical moisture looms, demanding the vigilance of millions residing in Southern California and the Southwest. The imminent torrential downpours linked to the storm have the potential to induce rainfall accumulations ranging from 3 to 6 inches, with isolated areas possibly experiencing up to 8 inches, across parts of the Baja California Peninsula until Monday morning. The resultant flash floods, potentially of a significant magnitude, loom as a real threat.
The impending deluge is not confined to the Peninsula. Tropical Storm Hilary’s forecasted trajectory places California and the Southwest directly in its path, with expectations of heavy rainfall commencing Friday and persisting through early next week. The apex of these impacts is projected to materialize on Sunday and Monday. Southern California, encompassing major cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego, could witness several inches of rain leading up to Wednesday. Southeastern California and portions of southern Nevada could observe rainfall amounts totaling 3 to 5 inches. Additionally, localized areas could experience higher accumulations, ranging from 5 to 8 inches.
Western Arizona is also expected to be in the storm’s trajectory, with projected rainfall ranging from 2 to 3 inches.
Remaining Weather-Ready Amidst Uncertainty
In the face of the brewing storm and its far-reaching implications, one thing is clear—preparation and vigilance remain essential. As Tropical Storm Hilary strengthens its grip and its path becomes increasingly certain, readiness is the key to ensuring safety in the affected regions. Stay informed, stay cautious, and stay weather-ready.