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Hurricane Hilary path and timeline: Here’s when and where the storm is expected to hit California

Hurricane Hilary is expected to hit southern California with heavy rain as early as this weekend after making its way into Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

Forecasters said the storm is expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain, with a maximum of 10 inches, over parts of Baja California through Sunday night, with the possibility of flash flooding.

There will likely be “damaging wind gusts,” especially at higher elevations in the area, and swell along the coast, Greg Postel, a hurricane and storm specialist with the Weather Channel, said. told CBS News.

Hurricane Hilary off the Mexican coast early on August 18, 2023.

National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Where is the projected path of Hurricane Hilary?

As of early Friday, Hurricane Hilary was located about 400 miles south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, making it a “major” Category 4, the NHC said, adding that it is “major and is powerful.”

The storm was moving west-northwest at 13 mph, with an expected turn to the northwest on Friday morning, followed by a turn to the north-northwest and north on Saturday, the center said.

Hurricane Hilary’s projected path as of 2 a.m. EDT on Aug. 18, 2023.

National Hurricane Center

When will Hurricane Hilary hit the California coast?

The center of the storm will approach the Baja California peninsula this weekend, NHC said.

The storm, which is not expected to be one Hurricane by the time it reaches California, it will hit the southwestern U.S. with heavy rainfall Friday through early next week, “peaking on Sunday and Monday,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

“It’s rare — even almost unprecedented in modern history — to have a tropical system like this pass through Southern California,” Postel told CBS News.

The last time Southern California was hit by a tropical storm was in 1939, before storms got names, CBS News senior weather and climate producer David Parkinson said. Several storms that were hurricanes or tropical storms have since hit the state, but by then they had weakened to subtropical systems, Parkinson noted.

The storm’s projected path showed it could make landfall anywhere from the Baja California Peninsula to as far north as Santa Barbara, California. One model showed the heaviest rain to hit the Palm Springs area after the storm made landfall.

“But if this storm track moves west just 40 miles … you’re taking all this heavy rain now … and now you’re moving it into parts of Orange County. You’re moving it into parts of the [Inland Empire] which are very well populated,” Parkinson said.

Either situation would be cause for concern, Parkinson noted. The desert area around Palm Springs would not be able to handle the expected amount of rain, and if the track shifts westward, areas scorched by recent wildfires would also be flooded.

The Hilary storm is likely to trigger landslides and mudslides in certain areas recently burned by wildfires and storm surges along parts of California’s southern Baja Peninsula and Gulf Coast, the Weather Channel reports.

“You’re now looking at a winter storm in summer in places that aren’t used to this amount of rain,” Parkinson said.

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