National Hurricane Center warns of 'catastrophic' and 'life-threatening flooding' in parts of California through Monday

Ed Walsh
National Weather Service rainfall projectionsPhoto byNational Weather Service

Hurricane Hillary has been downgraded to Tropical Storm Hillary as she takes aim on California promising to bring a year's worth of rain in 36 hours to desert communities in the state including the Greater Palm Springs area.

National Weather Service San Diego advised on Sunday, "Hilary has weakened to a Tropical Strom and is expected to make it into SoCal this afternoon. Expect periods of heavy rain; areas of flooding especially in the mountains and deserts; and strong winds especially in San Diego Co, east Inland Empire, mountains, and deserts. Be safe!"

In a bulletin issued Sunday morning at 8 a.m. the National Hurricane Center warned that Hillary was "very near" the west coast of Baja California. And NHC warned that "catastrophic and life-threatening flooding" is likely over Baja California and portions of the Southwestern United States through Monday.

Government officials in Mexico on Sunday discontinued the Hurricane Watch and downgraded the Hurricane Warning to a Tropical Storm Warning for the Baja California Peninsula.

On Friday, meteorologist Mike Everett posted on his Facebook page:

"As many of you know, I forecasted in Palm Springs for four years. I have never seen a scenario like this. While tropical systems have impacted Southern California before, this is the first time a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued by the National Hurricane Center / the National Weather Service in Southern California.

"I also lived in and forecasted on the east coast of Florida for 15 years. I know hurricanes.

"Hurricane Hilary is expected to bring a year's worth of rain to The Coachella Valley in a 36-hour window. Flash flooding occurs there when we get a half-inch of rain. Current models have around 5" by Monday morning.

"In addition, even heavier rain (up to around 10") is likely on the east facing slopes of the San Bernardino mountains and places such as Idyllwild. This will create slide potential along the west side of the valley.

"Anyone near the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Tahquitz Canyon, Downtown Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Palm Desert and La Quinta Cove should exercise extreme caution and have an evacuation plan in place."

Since Everett's post, the National Weather Service slightly downgraded the rain estimates in the desert but the the service still warns the storm may cause "catastrophic" damage to parts of California.

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