Hurricane Hilary, with 130mph winds, approaches Mexico and the California coast.

A Category 4 hurricane named Hilary, with winds of 130mph (215 km/h), is heading towards Mexico and the southwestern US. The storm is predicted to make its first landfall in Baja California, Mexico, on Saturday, then weaken into a tropical storm and move towards southern California, where flash flood warnings have been issued. This could be the first tropical storm to hit California in over 80 years. President Joe Biden confirmed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) is prepared to respond to the situation, urging residents in the storm’s path to heed guidance from local officials.

The National Weather Service (NWS) anticipates heavy rainfall, ranging from 3-6 inches (7–15 cm) in some areas and up to 10 inches in others, potentially causing significant flooding in parts of southern California and southern Nevada. San Diego faces “high potential” for flash flooding. Approximately 26 million people in the southwestern US are under flood watch.

Hilary has slightly weakened as of Friday night. She is located about 285 miles southwest of Mexico’s southern edge. Mexico is under a tropical storm watch, with 18,000 soldiers on standby for rescue and relief efforts. The NWS expects Hilary to become a tropical storm by late Sunday before reaching southern California. Heavy rainfall is projected until next Wednesday, posing a risk of catastrophic flooding in parts of the southwestern US.

In response to the approaching storm, Major League Baseball rescheduled games in southern California, SpaceX delayed a rocket launch, and the National Park Service closed Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve to prevent visitors from being stranded due to flooding.

Hurricanes are not uncommon in Mexico, but it’s extremely rare for a tropical storm to make landfall in California. Climate experts attribute such severe and abnormal weather events to human-caused climate change. In July 2023, the hottest month on record according to NASA, the deadliest wildfire in modern US history occurred in Hawaii, killing over 111 people and being compounded by hurricane winds passing through the region.

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