CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico – Hilary brought heavy rain Saturday to parts of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula and the southwestern United States as authorities warned the powerful hurricane was likely to cause flooding “catastrophic and potentially deadly”.
The storm had weakened from a powerful Category 4 to Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale on Saturday – but was still rated capable of ‘significant damage’ and hurricane conditions are expected to continue along from the Baja California coast until Sunday morning. , said the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
On Saturday afternoon, Hilary was blowing maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (175 kilometers per hour), with higher gusts, the NHC said.
“Heavy rain” was affecting parts of Baja California and the southwestern United States, with “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding likely”.
“Hilary’s center will move near the west central coast of the Baja California Peninsula tonight and Sunday morning, then move across Southern California Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening,” the hurricane center said.
The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical storm before reaching southern California and southern Nevada, with heavy rain and flooding still possible.
Residents and workers at the Mexican tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas put up protective panels and laid thousands of sandbags as large waves began to crash onto the shore.
Servicemen were seen patrolling the town’s beach, a popular destination for Mexican and foreign tourists.
“We took all the precautionary measures last night,” Omar Olvera told AFP on Saturday at the beachfront restaurant in Cabo San Lucas where he works.
With sandbags stacked protectively around the restaurant, he said, “We’re just watching the workers and waiting for the time to come.”
The streets of the town of Todos Santos, on the west coast of the peninsula, were largely deserted on Saturday while nearby Cerritos beach was closed due to choppy waves.
“Last night we felt the wind picking up, it wasn’t as strong as expected but it still worried us,” said Marco Segura, a 57-year-old worker at Cerritos.
The Mexican government has deployed nearly 19,000 troops to the states hardest hit by the storm, while the federal electric utility has sent 800 workers and hundreds of vehicles to deal with possible outages.
In the United States, “rainfall amounts of three to six inches, with isolated amounts of 10 inches, are expected in parts of southern California and southern Nevada,” the NHC said.
“Dangerous to catastrophic flooding is expected.”
Nancy Ward, director of the California governor’s office of emergency services, said Hilary could be one of the worst storms to hit the state in more than a decade.
“Make no mistake about it,” she said, as quoted by US media. “It’s a very, very dangerous and significant storm.”
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed teams to areas targeted by Hilary ahead of the storm, and President Joe Biden was receiving regular updates as he prepared to travel to Hawaii to assess the damage. by a devastating forest fire.
“He encouraged everyone to make sure they are aware of what this dangerous storm will potentially bring and to listen to their local officials about what steps they can take to ensure they stay safe.” , said FEMA Chief Deanne Criswell. .
Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer have postponed games scheduled for Sunday in the United States region.
Hurricanes hit Mexico every year on its Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Although their remnants occasionally affect California, it is rare for cyclones to hit the state with tropical storm intensity.
Scientists have warned that the storms are getting more powerful as the world heats up with climate change.
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