It is projected that the Category 4 hurricane would make landfall in the Mexican state of Baja California before heading up north.
As Hurricane Hilary nears, the US National Hurricane Center has issued the first-ever tropical storm warning for the southern point of California.
The notice, which was issued on Friday, warns that tropical storm conditions, including choppy seas, copious rain, and winds up to 117 kph (73 mph), may develop over the next two days.
But the classification also creates history in California, a state that hasn’t seen a tropical cyclone in nearly 84 years despite having a vast coastline.
Greg Postel, a meteorologist with the Weather Channel, told CBS News that seeing a tropical system go over Southern California is unusual, almost unheard of in the modern record.
Hilary, which is currently a strong Category 4 storm, has also sparked a hurricane warning for the Baja California peninsula in Mexico, where it is anticipated to make landfall on Saturday night or early Sunday.
On the five-tier Saffir-Simpson scale, the cyclone intensified quickly on Thursday, climbing to the second-highest category on Friday. With some gusts significantly higher, meteorologists measured persistent winds of 230 km/h (145 mph).
The government of Baja California restricted ports to small-vessel traffic in the impacted area as a result of the impending storm, which caused coastal waves to reach heights of up to 7 meters (23 feet). Classes were also canceled and sporting events were postponed.
The governor of Baja California, Marina del Pilar, urged those in susceptible locations to look for safety elsewhere.
The region noted for its wildlife refuge and fishing communities that juts into the Pacific Ocean along the middle of the Baja California peninsula, from Punta Abreojos to Punta Eugenia, was covered by the hurricane alert.
However, it is anticipated that the hurricane will move further north, toward denser populations. Along with other dangers, the US National Hurricane Center warned of potential flash floods.
The National Hurricane Center warned of “rare and dangerous flooding” on Friday.
Tropical storm systems haven’t been particularly common in California in the past. Tropical storms find it difficult to form along its southern coast due to cold currents, and winds usually push them westward.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, climate scientist Daniel Swain stated in a presentation on Wednesday that “it has been a very long time since an actual intact tropical-storm-level tropical cyclone has made landfall anywhere in California.”
More recently, remnants of cyclones have affected California, such as Hurricane Kay in 2022, which delivered bands of rain into the state after weakening to a tropical storm.
But in California, where a succession of atmospheric rivers pounded the state from late December through March, a direct impact is still uncommon despite the state’s recent recovery from a protracted drought.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA