San Diego

Live updates: When and where will Hurricane Hilary impact San Diego County?

Hilary, now a hurricane, is tracking toward Baja California, Mexico, and Southern California, where it is expected to bring widespread tropical rain and powerful wind gusts that could be damaging

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Hurricane Hilary updates as of 9 p.m. Friday

  • Hurricane Hilary is expected to bring between 2 and 10 inches of rain depending on region, winds up to 73 mph, flash floods and possible mudslides between Saturday and Monday, with the strongest impacts coming Sunday afternoon and night
  • Hilary is a Category 4 hurricane as of Friday evening but it's expected to weaken to a tropical storm by the time it makes landfall Sunday
  • San Diegans can prepare their families and homes for Hilary by following these safety tips

Hilary was upgraded Thursday night to a Category 4 hurricane as wind speeds reached major hurricane level, prompting for the first time ever a tropical storm warning for Southern California, the National Hurricane Center said.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical-storm-force winds up to 73 mph are expected within the next 36 hours and residents should prepare for hazards, like damage to unanchored items, downed trees and possible power or communication outages, according to the National Weather Service. The warning was upgraded from a watch Friday evening as wind forecasts jumped above 60 mph, according to the NWS.

Heavy tropical rain from the storm could create flash flooding in San Diego County as soon as Sunday. Hilary also has the potential to produce large swells to the coastline, according to NBC 7 meteorologists.

A flash flood watch was in effect for Saturday morning to Monday evening due to the potential for "rare and damaging impacts," the National Weather Service warned.

President Joe Biden on Friday warned people in the storm's path to prepare for the storm.

“I urge everyone, everyone in the path of this storm, to take precautions and listen to the guidance of state and local officials,” Biden told reporters Friday at Camp David, where he is meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

Here's what you should know:

Where is Hurricane Hilary?

The storm was churning off the coast of Mexico Friday and nearing Baja California, where a hurricane watch was issued for the community. The storm was expected to approach San Diego County by Sunday, though its direction and timing could change in the days to come.

The storm is expected to weaken and will likely be downgraded as it moves closer to our region, NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said.

"As it approaches, it will encounter colder ocean water temperatures and land interaction, which will cause this storm to rapidly weaken. At that time it may be a strong tropical storm," Parveen said.

How strong is Hilary?

Hilary became a hurricane early Thursday and was upgraded to a Category 4 by 11 p.m., but it's expected to weaken to a tropical storm by the time the bulk of the storm hits San Diego on Sunday.

Tropical storm and hurricane categories are set by the following wind speed ranges:

  • Tropical Storm: 39-73 mph
  • Category 1: 74-95 mph
    Category 2: 96-110 mph
  • Category 3: 111-129 mph
  • Category 4: 130-156 mph
  • Category 5: 157 mph+

Anything over a Category 3 is considered a major hurricane.

What is Hilary's current trajectory?

The latest track forecast had the storm's trajectory turning north toward Southern California Friday and turning again to approach Baja California over the weekend.

The storm is expected to weaken by the time it gets close to San Diego due to unfavorable atmospheric conditions and the fact that ocean water in our region is too cold to sustain a major hurricane, according to Parveen.

The NHC, which tracks the trajectory of the storm, advises that the current cone accounts for uncertainty and is an estimate of possibilities; the tropical storm could switch direction or wind speeds in the days to come.

"It is important to remind users to not focus on the exact forecast track and intensity of Hilary, especially in the latter parts of the forecast period," The Hurricane Center said in their Wednesday report.

How will Hilary affect San Diego?

Hilary could be the first tropical storm to impact San Diego County since Tropical Storm Kay in Sept. 2022. If Hilary is still a tropical storm when it reaches the region, it would be the first in San Diego County since 1939.

Storm clouds will increase on Saturday and by Sunday or Monday, San Diego County was expected to feel the strongest effects from Hilary. The chance of showers could linger through next week, forecasters say.

From Saturday to Monday, most coastal and inland communities could see up to 3 inches of rain while mountain and desert areas could see between 4 and 7 inches, according to the NWS.

"This does have the potential to be a very high-impact event for portions of Southern California. There is still a degree of uncertainty in the forecast and more details will come on exact timing, location, and magnitude of impacts in the coming days," the National Weather Service San Diego said.

Wave heights will also increase as the storm approaches, but the most significant surf will likely be north of San Diego County on south-facing beaches, Parveen said. No watches or warnings are in effect.

How should I prepare for Hilary's impact?

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