tropical storm
August 18, 2023

Prepare for weather So Cal hasn’t seen since 1939

Heavy rains, flooding, and tropical force winds possible

Author: Jules Bernstein
August 18, 2023

Hurricane Hilary is forecast to approach Southern California starting this weekend. Though it’s still too soon to confirm when — or if — the hurricane will make landfall, or exactly how strong the effects will be, preparation is critical. 

The last time the Golden State experienced this weather phenomenon was over 80 years ago, when a storm nicknamed El Cordonazo or The Lash of St. Francis hit Long Beach. Given that many in this region have not experienced such an intense storm in their lifetimes, we turned to an expert for guidance. Andrew Flores is director of UC Riverside’s Office of Emergency Management.

Q: What is most important for people to know about Hurricane Hilary?

A: The primary concern is heavy rainfall and strong winds beginning Saturday night at midnight through Sunday at midnight. The areas of highest concern are the Palm Springs and mountain areas, where we could get up to 10 inches of rain and winds between 30 and 45 miles per hour. Heavy rainfall there is due to open space and wind pushing the rain. Riverside will be a little more protected by the mountains. 

Riverside County plans to use its cooling centers as shelters if needed. A list of them can be found online. There are no evacuation orders at this time, but county emergency officials are recommending people be prepared to shelter in place, as driving conditions will be bad. 

Q: Are there some actions readers can take to prepare?

A: Yes. Stock up on supplies for the weekend, monitor travel plans and assess whether you really need to go out on Saturday or Sunday. Also, do not drive through flooded areas, as cars can be swept away in as few as 6 inches of moving water. 

Prepare to work from home on Monday if necessary or possible. And stay abreast of weather updates as they become available via outlets such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site

Q: Given that unprecedented weather events appear to be increasing — for example the deadly wildfire on Maui and the nation’s intense heat wave — does it seem that Southern Californians should expect more events like Hurricane Hilary in the future?

A: This is a very unusual, very rare event and at present, we believe the likelihood of reoccurrence is low. For now, UCR emergency officials are coordinating with Riverside County and the state’s Office of Emergency Services to monitor the storm and get through these next few days. 

(Cover image: tuaindeed/iStock/Getty) 

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