There were tens of thousands without electricity in Southern California on Sunday evening after Tropical Storm Hilary brought damaging winds and a risk of “life-threatening flooding” to the region, prompting alerts across the state and even as far north as Oregon and Idaho.
The center of the storm made landfall in southern California near Palm Springs Sunday night after passing through Mexico. Emergency officials urged residents across the state to stay indoors and stay away from flooded streets, and schools in Los Angeles and San Diego canceled classes Monday.
“THIS IS A DEATHLY FLOOD!!!!!!” wrote the Los Angeles bureau of the National Weather Service Sunday night. The agency issued a flash flood warning for parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through early Monday morning.
“You don’t want to drive around and try to cross flooded streets by vehicle or on foot,” Michael Brennan, the director of the National Hurricane Center, said during a news conference. Per The Associated Press. “Rainfall flooding has been the leading cause of death from tropical storms and hurricanes in the United States for the past decade, and you don’t want to become a statistic.”
Maximum sustained winds reached about 45 miles per hour, but weather officials expected the storm to weaken into a post-tropical cyclone by early Monday. Rain levels of 3 to 6 inches were expected across much of California and Nevada, with as much as 10 inches in some areas.
The intensity of the storm and the fact that a hurricane was headed for California at all have already shown raised concerns among climate researchers who have long warned that such events will only become more frequent and severe as climate change progresses. It’s too early to say if our warmer world has made Hilary worse, but researchers released a shocking report in 2020 that found Climate change is already leading to hurricanes stronger.