Hurricane Hilary – California towns set to be hit by flash flooding mapped

Hurricane Hilary grew into a Category 4 storm as it barreled towards Southern California which is bracing for “significant and rare impacts”, including extensive flooding.

The US National Hurricane Center said Hilary had sustained winds near 145mph at 6am and is expected to continue its rapid intensification through Friday before starting to weaken.

It will nevertheless still be a hurricane when it approaches Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Saturday night and will approach Southern California on Sunday as a tropical storm.

The storm will bring a substantial flash flooding risk to cities from San Diego to Las Vegas, according to the National Weather Service.

No tropical storm has made landfall in Southern California since September 25, 1939, according to the service.

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Early Friday, Hilary was centred about 400 miles south of Los Cabos on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. It was moving west-northwest at 13mph but was expected to turn gradually toward the north through Saturday.

The Mexican government extended its hurricane watch and tropical storm warning northward for parts of Baja California Sur state and also issued a tropical storm watch for parts of mainland Mexico.

“Heavy rainfall in association with Hilary is expected to impact the Southwestern United States through next Wednesday, peaking on Sunday and Monday,” the hurricane centre said. It said there was a substantial danger of flash flooding in an area stretching from San Diego to Las Vegas.

“Rainfall amounts of three to six inches, with isolated amounts of 10 inches, are expected across portions of southern California and southern Nevada, which would lead to significant and rare impacts. Elsewhere across portions of the Western United States, rainfall totals of one to three inches are expected.”

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The Mexican government said a weakened Hilary might hit the coast Sunday night between the cities of Playas de Rosarito and Ensenada, in Baja California state.

Meanwhile, the city of Yuma was preparing Thursday by providing residents with a self-serve sandbag filling station.

The sandbag station will be stocked with sand and empty bags for self-filling while supplies last.

Residents were allowed five sandbags per vehicle.

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