How serious is Hurricane Hilary for those in San Diego?

Landslides, mudslides and debris flows possible from Hilary’s impact

SAN DIEGO — The question of the weekend for many people in San Diego County: how serious is Hurricane Hilary?

With a rare weather advisory like Tropical Storm Warning in the region, residents are left wondering whether or not these alerts are something to take lightly or to heart.

With extreme weather conditions like those brought on by hurricanes, an inkling of the possible impacts of these tropical storms could be the difference between devastation and safety.

What’s certain for now: Hurricane Hilary is barreling towards Southern California with the National Weather Service expecting her landfall in the county within the next 24 hours.

So, should you head for the hills, bunker down ready to embrace the worst or continue your weekend as normal? Circumstance and location play a big factor in how you should respond to Hilary’s arrival but ultimately, weather officials are encouraging residents to use extreme precaution.

Deserts and mountains

This is especially true for those in the desert and mountain areas, where NWS has warned of dangerous to “locally catastrophic” flooding. Forecasted rainfall amounts for these areas during the brunt of the storm range from three to 10 inches.

For example, NWS predictions show anywhere from seven to 10 inches of precipitation for Mt. Laguna and between five and 7 inches for Palomar. The deserts of Borrego Springs could see five to 5 inches of rainfall in a two-day span.

This chance of widespread moderate to heavy rain creates a high risk of flash, urban, and arroyo flooding, NWS explained. This means there’s potential for landslides, mudslides, and debris flow in the desert and mountain areas.

County and Cal Fire officials are offering advice and free sandbags for those living in the unincorporated part of the region. More on how to prepare for flood risks can be found here.

Coastal, urban and city areas

Those on the coast, downtown and more urban areas may be “out of the woods” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t precautions to consider.

Large swells are expected to be produced by Hilary along the San Diego coastline for the next few days, according to NWS. This may cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Swimming, surfing and boating should be avoided.

Flooding is still a major concern in these areas as well. The City of San Diego’s Stormwater Department has placed “no parking” signs in low-lying or flood-risk areas, including crossings around the San Diego River. Officials have advised the public to follow these signs and not to drive through flooded areas.

“Expect torrential rain, damaging winds, flooding and more. Driving conditions will be dangerous. Stay home,” advised the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Sandbags are available at a number of recreation centers throughout the city, though supplies may be running low as the tropical storm nears.

Multiple crews from the city’s Storm Patrol will be monitoring areas throughout the county and responding to incidents like flooding and downed trees or branches.

The impacts of Hurricane Hilary are to be determined but as the saying goes, “better safe than sorry.”

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