‘Hilary’: First Ever Tropical Storm Watch Issued for SoCal, Storm Has Potential to Be Tropical Cyclone – First One in Nearly Century

by on August 18, 2023 · 5 comments

in San Diego

By Chris Lindahl/ Patch San Diego/ August 18, 2023

Hurricane Hilary has intensified to Category 4 status as it continues to make its way northward off the coast of Baja California Friday morning, bringing with it winds up to 140 mph.

The National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for a wide swath of Southern California, marking the first time such a warning has been issued for the region. The NWS expects heavy rainfall to peak in the region this weekend and into Monday.

The powerful storm is expected to reach Southern California by Saturday as a tropical storm. However, it has the potential to become the rare tropical cyclone to make landfall in the state. According to the National Weather Service in San Diego, it’s been nearly a century since a tropical cyclone hit the region, bringing strong winds, large surf and torrential rain.

Forecasters expect 2 to 4 inches of rain in most areas, though some small pockets could see amounts over 6 inches. The NWS expects the hardest-hit areas to include a region that extends from the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley down to inland San Diego and Imperial counties.

Hilary’s exact route is still uncertain, but National Weather Service forecasts show the downpours could start Saturday night in San Diego, peaking in intensity Sunday and Monday across Southern California. The threat of showers and thunderstorms is expected to remain throughout next week.

The NWS has issued a series of flood watches across SoCal. Flood watches begin in San Diego on Friday night, in Orange County on Saturday night and in Los Angeles County on Sunday afternoon.

Weather officials have warned that flooding might prompt evacuation orders or road closures due to dangerous conditions. Heavy rain has the potential to turn normally dry or weak waterways into “dangerous rivers,” that could lead to debris flows, the NWS said.

But until the rain comes, dry lightning has been an issue across the state. Cal Fire recorded over 4,450 dry lightning strikes earlier this week. The agency warned that an increase in such strikes come with a greater risk of wildfire.

Forecasts show that some areas of SoCal could see wind gusts of up to 60 mph. Southeast- and south- facing beaches could get surf of 4 to 7 feet, with Catalina the most likely to see strong swells.

The region’s first-ever tropical storm watch applies to a wide swath of SoCal that includes the coast, mountains and deserts of San Diego county; coastal and inland Orange County, the Coachella Valley; and the Inland Empire from Temecula to San Bernardino.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris August 18, 2023 at 11:18 am

But but but those emails!!


Frank Gormlie August 18, 2023 at 11:28 am

It took me a couple of seconds, Chris, to figure out what the hay you were talking about. Then a chuckle.


Chris August 18, 2023 at 11:51 am

It happens to us all. Cheers and how everything ends up ok. I’m actually nervous.


Chris August 18, 2023 at 11:52 am

Meant to say hope.


sealintheSelkirks August 18, 2023 at 12:15 pm

Took me a minute to get it, too, Frank, probably because there weren’t two L’s in the name. Good one, Chris! I don’t usually stutter like this…

Calling Hilary the first ever tropical storm watch is pretty silly since the only reason it’s the first is that nobody was doing that back in 1939, or all the previous ones before that date back in history. The cold water current certainly does keep the majority away and heading towards Hawai’i, but the ocean temps are noticeably going up everywhere.

But I will venture a guess that, as the planet continues its slide into the ‘Blowtorchocene Era,’ the daily fossil fuel GHG emissions increase (CO2 at 424ppm measured) that there will be plenty more to follow little Hilary. It’s getting pretty dang obvious that we’ve crossed some kind of boundary this year across the entire planet.

Somehow I don’t think pressboard paneling walls (OSB board) and asphalt shingle roofs are going to deal well with the kind of winds usually associated with tropical storms (or as News8 San Diego predicted yesterday, a possible Cat 2 hurricane?). The Gulf Coast and Florida sure haven’t and they are built up using much the same materials.

Up here in the mountains by the Canadian Border? 103’F at 2pm yesterday, wildfire smoke, and I’m under four weather alerts: Red Flag Alert, Excessive Heat Alert, Air Quality Alert, and Fire Weather Zone Alert.

Ain’t life grand in the Blowtorchocene?

Batten down the hatches, folks, because it looks like you’re in for a blow!



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