Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall Sunday on the Baja California peninsula in northwestern Mexico, with “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” expected in the region, including across portions of the southwestern United States, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hilary, which was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Sunday morning, is forecast to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain in many areas, with some predicting up to 10 inches in parts of northern Baja California.
The storm was the latest threat to hit North America, which has been beleaguered by extreme events in recent weeks. Much of the U.S. has been gripped by punishing heat this summer, and a heat dome is expected to bake the central and southern parts of the country in the coming days. Earlier this month, wildfires tore through Maui, killing at least 114 people in what has become the deadliest wildfires in modern U.S. history. Dangerous wildfires are also raging in Washington State and across the border in western Canada.
The storm is expected to reach Southern California on Sunday afternoon, becoming the first tropical storm to hit the region in 84 years.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday declared a state of emergency, while forecasters warned that the storm could produce life-threatening flash flooding, mudslides, dangerous surf conditions and even tornadoes.
Rainfall could fall at a rate of 3 inches per hour at the storm’s peak, particularly in the mountainous parts of the state, according to local forecasts. Heavy rain, along with the threat of flash flooding, will persist through Monday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A state of emergency was similarly declared in Clark County, Nevada. Meteorologists have said that Hilary could produce more than a year’s worth of rain in some of the driest parts of the Southwest, increasing the risk of dangerous flooding and landslides.
Nearly 1,000 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled Sunday, as the storm barreled up the coast.
Hilary developed in the eastern Pacific Ocean and reached Category 4 strength as a hurricane but was downgraded to a tropical storm before it made landfall.