April 14, 2024
Hilary is the region’s first tropical storm in 84 years


Tropical Storm Hilary began barreling across California on Sunday, with experts forecasting “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” in the days ahead. It’s the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years — and by Sunday morning, parts of the state were already feeling its impact.

In Los Angeles County, rain had already covered the roadways by 9 a.m, with the aqueducts on I-5’s Grapevine gushing with water. Nearby, parts of Riverside County were placed under an evacuation order a few hours later, according to the area’s emergency management department — and San Bernardino County sent out its own evacuation order Saturday night, encouraging residents in five communities to leave their homes ahead of the storm.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, wind speeds had hit 65 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

We just pulled out from the Universal lot and we’ve already seen several streets and intersections flooded. Please be safe! Coverage all day live on @NBCLA #Hilary pic.twitter.com/q7Yg8uDt3q

— Alex Rozier (@AlexNBCLA) August 20, 2023

Flash flood warnings were issued across San Diego County, hitting Jacumba, Boulevard, Mount Laguna, and Descanso by Sunday afternoon.

Flash flooding was also reported in Death Valley National Park.

“Water is already flowing across roads in the park. It will get worse, and roads will be impassable. Emergency services probably won’t be able to respond,” according to an alert on the park’s website.

As Hilary approached the Golden State on Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency, deploying 7,500 first responders — like local firefighters, soldiers from the National Guard, and swift water rescue teams — across the state.

By Sunday afternoon, the forecasts were still evolving: 10 inches of rain were expected in some parts of California and Nevada, while possible tornadoes were expected east and north of San Diego, according to the National Weather Storm Prediction Center.

1:11pm CDT #SPC_MD 2017 , #azwx #nvwx #cawx, https://t.co/qN6RR8THi3 pic.twitter.com/PYe4RtWxpl

— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) August 20, 2023

Staff reporter Grace Hase contributed to this story.