An airplane flies into Los Angeles International Airport through a storm caused by Tropical Storm Hilary in Los Angeles on Aug. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Tropical storm Hilary, having weakened from a Category 1 hurricane, is speeding up while pushing into Southern California Aug. 20, prompting evacuation warnings and cancellation of flights, classes, and sports games in some regions, bringing a stretch of rainfall expected to last through Monday.
Residents are asked to remain indoors as the tropical storm will likely bring “catastrophic and life-threatening” flooding to the region, according to National Weather Services (NWS).
The NWS has issued Southern California’s first-ever tropical storm watch Friday night—encompassing Los Angeles County, Orange County’s coastal and inland regions, and the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills. The state has not experienced a tropical storm landfall since 1939.
Sunday’s morning rainfall covered southern Orange County, spanning the 5 Freeway between Anaheim and Mission Viejo and extending further south to San Diego, NWS reported. As the storm progressed eastward, more intense rain pockets formed in areas including the Inland Empire, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, and the mountain regions.
The storm is forecasted to persist in the Southland until Monday morning and possibly dissipate by early afternoon, with a chance of turning into isolated thunderstorms on Tuesday. A flood advisory is in effect until 8 p.m. Sunday for Los Angeles County, according to NWS.
Residents are urged to refrain from driving, hiking, or visiting the beach during the storm.
Local residents observe storms brought by Tropical Storm Hillary in Seal Beach, Calif., on Aug. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency Saturday, and Mayor Karen Bass of Los Angeles followed suit, issuing a local emergency declaration Sunday morning.
“We asked Angelenos to stay inside today,” Ms. Bass said. “The timing of this could become earlier. We know that storms are moving fast so it could change. So please stay at home.”
Hilary, formerly a hurricane, already claimed one life in Mexico while passing through the Baja California peninsula. A man died Aug. 19 near the city of Santa Rosalía when a family of five in a vehicle was swept away into the sea while crossing a stream.
Palm trees sway as the wind blows and water rises, after Hurricane Hilary strengthened into a Category 2 storm, in Armeria, in Colima state, Mexico, in this undated handout photo obtained on Aug. 17, 2023. (Proteccion Civil Estatal Colima via X/Handout via Reuters)
Some neighborhoods are under evacuation warnings as flash flooding, coastal flooding, and dangerous rip tides are expected.
Catalina Island residents are urged to evacuate with the area being “most vulnerable” to the strong swells, according to forecasters, as reported by City News Service. Surfs of 4 to 7 feet are possible at southeast- and south-facing beaches, along with strong rip currents, according to forecasters.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Saturday evening issued a compulsory evacuation order for several areas, encompassing Oak Glen, Forest Falls, Mountain Home Village, Angelus Oaks, and northeastern Yucaipa.
The city of Long Beach will set up a temporary shelter for those in need at Silverado Park, 1545 W. 31st St., providing essentials like food, water, beds, and basic medical assistance. The facility can currently host 75 individuals.
In Orange County, sandbags were also available at the county’s fire authority stations throughout the area. A full list is available at ocfa.org
Surfers catching big waves during Tropical Storm Hilary in Newport Beach, Calf., on Aug. 20, 2023. (Hau Nguyen/The Epoch Times)
According to Kristin Crowley, the Los Angeles fire chief, the region is projected to receive 1.5 to 3 inches of rainfall and wind speeds ranging from 20 to 30 mph. The areas beyond Los Angeles city boundaries, like the Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Mountains, are likely to face the storm’s impact more intensely, with an estimated 3 to 7 inches of rain and stronger winds, Ms. Crowley said in a statement.
Since Friday, L.A. officials have been cautioning individuals experiencing homelessness about the potential hazards posed by the severe weather conditions.
“The City of Los Angeles is working with [The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority] to identify resources citywide that can be used for Angelenos experiencing homelessness during the storm,” Ms. Bass said in a Saturday briefing.
Ms. Bass added that the city had opened temporary emergency shelters located near high-risk areas and will offer transportation to shelters.
State and local authorities assured that additional resources were ready, and that utility services were adequately staffed to manage potential power outages or emergencies.
An aerial view of Newport Beach, Calif., during Tropical Storm Hilary on Aug. 20, 2023. (Hau Nguyen/The Epoch Times)
As of Sunday morning, 189 flights were delayed and 94 canceled at Los Angeles International Airport between Sunday and Monday, according to FlightAware.com. In Orange County, 36 flights were delayed and 134 canceled at John Wayne International Airport. Seven other impacted Southern California airports are Hollywood Burbank, Bakersfield Municipal, Ontario International, Palm Springs International, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo County Regional, and San Diego International—along with some airports in Las Vegas and Arizona as they are, too, in line of the impact from the storm, according to airport officials.
San Diego International Airport received a heavier impact with 35 delays and 326 cancellations, according to the flight tracking website.
Amtrak’s well-favored coastal route, the Pacific Surfliner, has halted its 761 and 794 trains connecting Los Angeles and San Diego, starting Saturday night until Monday morning, railway officials announced on Friday.
In addition to travelers, sports enthusiasts also need to change weekend plans as various events had to be either rescheduled or postponed due to weather conditions.
Three major league baseball games originally scheduled for Sunday took place on Saturday instead, to avoid the storm, including the Dodgers against the Miami Marlins, the Angels versus the Tampa Bay Rays, and San Diego Padres’ home games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, several major league soccer games were postponed.
Rainstorms brought in by Tropical Storm Hillary hit Los Angeles on Aug. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
All Los Angeles Unified School District schools will be closed Monday, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Sunday afternoon.
“Our inability to survey buildings, our inability to determine access to schools, makes it nearly impossible for us to open,” Mr. Carvalho said during a news conference.
The district will set up grab-and-go centers to distribute food to students and families, many of whom depending on its food programs, starting Monday afternoon, according to the superintendent.
Amid weeks of striking, the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America announced the cancellation of their scheduled picketing for Monday.
San Diego Unified School District and San Diego Community College Distric also postponed the first day of classes until Aug. 22 due to the storm.
“I remain hopeful that the storm will continue to decrease in its intensity as it moves through our region. However, given the uncertainty of the weather and our need to thoroughly assess any impacts to our facilities, all schools will be closed to students on Monday, August 21,” San Diego Unified’s Superintendent Lamont Jackson said in a statement issued Aug. 20.
This is a developing story.