California has been warned of potentially fatal and catastrophic flooding as category 4 Hurricane Hilary rushes towards Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, according to a tropical storm warning issued by the US government on Friday.
“Life-threatening and potentially catastrophic flooding is likely over much of Baja California and Southern California this weekend and early next week,” National Hurricane Center (NHC) agency said in its latest advisory.
Mexico’s Baja California peninsula spans two states. The northernmost one canceled non-essential public activities on Friday, including school classes till Monday. Whereas, authorities in Mexico’s second-largest city, Tijuana, urged people in high-risk zones to move to temporary shelters, reported Reuters.
In the peninsula’s southern state, authorities postponed a local baseball match and said ports would be closed through late Friday.
“Without being alarmist, we must all take precautions and stock up on water and basic necessities at home, without resorting to panic buying,” the state’s governor said.
NHC Deputy Director Jamie Rhome warned of flood risks from San Diego to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with particularly high risks around the Palm Springs area.
“If you’ve got weekend plans, it’s probably time to start altering those plans,” he said. Major League Baseball moved up a trio of Sunday games in Southern California to Saturday.
Though cold waters off California’s coastline usually weaken incoming storms, Rhome said “this system is expected to hold onto to its strength because it will be moving fast.”
Hilary was moving west-northwest at nearly 12 miles per hour (19 kph), packing maximum sustained winds of nearly 130 mph (215 kph), after being upgraded to a Category 4 overnight, it said.
Rhome said California and southern Nevada faced risks from severe flooding caused by up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) of rainfall, while the agency warned a storm surge could cause coastal flooding and destructive waves along Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
This is the first time in its records that a high-risk warning has been issued for California’s south-easterly desert regions, according to the National Weather Service (NWS)
Heavy rains are expected to hit California, Nevada, and neighboring Arizona following a record-breaking summer heat wave.
Phoenix, Arizona, endured a month-long stretch of temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit, (43°C) throughout July, according to NWS, trapped under a “heat dome” of stagnant air.
In California’s Death Valley desert, temperatures hit 128 Fahrenheit (53 C) in mid-July, among the highest temperatures recorded on Earth in the past 90 years, while tens of millions of Americans were put under heat alerts.