Rapidly Intensifying Hurricane Hilary Brings Rainfall & Flood Risks: Southwest Impact

Hurricane Hilary is rapidly intensifying in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Mexico and is expected to bring substantial rainfall and flooding to parts of the Southwest as a weaker system this weekend. The National Hurricane Center forecasts Hilary to become a major hurricane, possibly reaching Category 4 strength with winds surpassing 130 mph.

As of Thursday morning, Hilary was located about 550 miles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with sustained winds of 85 mph. The storm’s trajectory over the next few days along Mexico’s Baja Peninsula could result in varying outcomes for the heaviest rain and strongest winds in the US.

The most significant rain and flooding impacts are predicted to arrive in California by early Monday, with Hilary’s rainfall potentially beginning as early as Saturday in parts of the Southwest. However, the exact areas most affected will depend on the storm’s track.

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Potential for Rain, Wind, and Flooding Impacts

Hilary’s winds have the potential to reach strengths capable of causing damage to trees, power lines, and property near its center. The threat of mudslides and flash flooding looms, with anticipated rainfall amounts ranging from 3 to 6 inches across Mexico’s Baja Peninsula from Thursday to early Monday. Higher terrain could experience even more substantial rainfall.

Although Hilary is projected to weaken significantly before reaching Southern California and parts of the Southwest, there’s an increasing likelihood of impactful heavy rain and flooding. Southern California and southern Nevada are forecasted to receive widespread rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches from Saturday through Monday, with the most intense rainfall expected on Sunday and Monday.

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Potential Rainfall in Drought-Stricken Areas

The potential rain brought by Hilary holds significance for the drought-stricken regions of the Southwest. New Mexico, California, and Arizona have experienced varying levels of drought conditions, and the seasonal monsoon, which typically contributes a substantial portion of their annual rainfall, has been lacking for much of the summer.

Hilary’s rainfall, although posing flood risks, offers an opportunity to alleviate drought conditions and recharge groundwater. The increased cloud cover and rainfall are also expected to bring a notable cooling effect to the region. Temperatures, which have soared into the upper 90s to 110s, could experience a drop of up to 20 degrees over the weekend.

Unprecedented Rainfall Potential

In a notable detail, Hurricane Hilary’s moisture could lead to an extraordinary amount of rainfall in some areas. For instance, Death Valley, California, known as the hottest place on Earth, typically receives only about 2 inches of rain per year. However, Hilary’s moisture could potentially deliver a year’s worth of rainfall in a single day, as happened in a destructive event last year when flash flooding stranded people and caused significant damage.

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Overall Impact and Considerations

While Hurricane Hilary’s intensification and potential for heavy rainfall offer relief from drought conditions in the Southwest, the risk of flooding and damage cannot be understated. The storm’s evolving trajectory and changing characteristics will influence the exact areas and extent of its impacts. Residents and authorities in the region should closely monitor the updates and prepare for the possibility of significant rainfall and flooding over the coming days.

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Robert S. Smith, a dedicated Travel and Environment News Journalist on thefost.com, expertly combines his love for travel with a strong environmental conscience. Through his captivating stories, he illuminates the juncture of globetrotting adventures and ecological mindfulness, encouraging readers to explore the world responsibly.

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