All eyes are on Hurricane Hilary, which was upgraded from a tropical storm on Thursday as it churns off the Pacific coast of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Hilary will hit Southern California as a tropical storm or perhaps a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday into Monday.
“This could develop into a major deal,” says KTLA meteorologist Henry DiCarlo. “It looks like it’s going to slide right through Southern California, so we’re going to get a couple of inches of rain out of this, if not more.”
While the forecast models will likely change, the National Weather Service is currently predicting rainfall amounts of one to four inches along the Southern California coast, including San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Heavier amounts, four to ten inches or more, are expected in the inland deserts.
“Borrego Springs and the Coachella Valley should bear the brunt of this storm. Palm Springs could get really drenched,” DiCarlo said.
All of Southern California and areas of Arizona and Nevada could potentially see flash flooding, according to the NWS.
Meteorologists say it is too early to determine the location and magnitude of wind impacts in the U.S.
“The wind potential with the tropical cyclone is still elevated,” NWS said. “Breezy to locally windy conditions are possible as the tropical cyclone circulation moves over the region … These values are expected to be largely below tropical storm force based on the latest [data].”
While tropical storms and hurricanes are extremely rare in Southern California due to the cool Pacific waters, they are not unheard of.
If Hilary reaches SoCal as a hurricane, it would be the first to hit the region since 1858.