The situation in Southern California after Hurricane Hilary, which hit the coast to the desert resort town of Palm Springs, forced search and rescue teams to work hard to save several people from overflowing rivers. The storm was now heading east, bringing torrential rains that flooded an area about 64 kilometers outside of Las Vegas.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami on Monday morning had downgraded Hilary to a tropical storm, but warned that “life-threatening flooding and localized catastrophe will continue” and is expected in parts of the southwest United States, as arrival of “record breaking” rainfall and potential flooding in the states of Oregon and Idaho.
The remnants of the storm that first brought torrential rains to Mexico’s arid Baja California Peninsula and the border city of Tijuana are expected to linger at least until Tuesday (22/8) morning US time.
Southern Californians are struggling with flooded roads, landslides and fallen trees. The winding roads in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles were blocked by flows of mud and debris. Meanwhile the I-10 freeway in the nearby Palm Springs area was also closed to traffic due to standing water from the storm.
Along the coast, the famous surfing stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway at Huntington Beach was also flooded.
Hilary is the latest weather and climate disaster to wreak havoc across the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Hawaiian island of Maui is still reeling from the fires that killed more than 100 people and devastated the historic city of Lahaina. The wildfires on Maui are the deadliest wildfires in the United States in more than a century.
Meanwhile firefighters in Canada are battling the country’s worst fire season on record.
Hurricane Hilary, the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, made landfall in Baja California on Sunday (20/8) in a sparsely populated area about 250 kilometers south of Ensenada. One person was reported drowned in the disaster.
The storm then moved through landslide-prone Tijuana, threatening makeshift homes on the hillsides south of the US border.
Hilary brings more than half of the year’s average rainfall to several areas, including Palm Springs, which saw more than 3 inches (8 cm) of rain late Sunday. (em/lt)