Hurricane Hilary May Have Peaked As Cat. 4 With 145 mph Winds, Forecast To Hit L.A. Late Sunday; Tropical Storm Watch Issued For Much Of Southern CA (2023)

UPDATED, Friday at 2:30 p.m. with latest windspeed, graphics: In a rare occurrence, the remnants of Hurricane Hilary is forecast to hit Southern California and possibly Los Angeles this weekend with tropical storm-force winds (39-73 mph) and very heavy rain.

What began as Tropical Storm Hilary off the coast of Mainland Mexico strengthened into a hurricane early Thursday. Over the next 24 hours, the storm’s maximum sustained windspeed rapidly intensified from 75 to 145 mph by Friday morning, making Hilary a strong Category 4 hurricane. The latest 2 p.m.update from the National Weather Service indicated the maximum sustained winds had dropped to 130 mph. That’s at the bottom end of Cat 4.

Related Stories

WeatherHurricane Hilary Affecting Los Angeles-Area Events: MLB Games Shifted; Theme Parks Monitoring Storm

By Sunday, Hilary is expected to become a lesser hurricane and then potentially hit Southern California and Los Angeles with tropical storm-force winds, especially at higher elevations, later in the day. The storm was about 360 miles SSW of Cabo San Lucas by late morning on Friday.

Late Thursday, NWS update also shifted the predicted path of the storm eastward, which could bode well for coastal population centers such as L.A., Orange County and San Diego. But that could mean that drier regions inland face the center of the storm plowing right over them, dropping a full year’s worth of rain in 24-48 hours.

(Video) Hilary grows into major hurricane, could reach California as very rare tropical storm

More substantially, for the first time it has the track over Southern California with the letter “S” attached. That means Hilary is expected to still be a tropical storm while roughly over San Diego County. See track map below.

Here is more on the storm’s direction from the National Weather Service:

Hilary is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 mph (22 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through tonight. A turn toward the northwest is expected Friday morning, followed by a turn toward the north-northwest and north on Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Hilary will approach the Baja California peninsula over the weekend.

Currently, per the NWS, “Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.”

Hurricane Hilary May Have Peaked As Cat. 4 With 145 mph Winds, Forecast To Hit L.A. Late Sunday; Tropical Storm Watch Issued For Much Of Southern CA (3)

The updated wind cone (featured as this story’s main image) has an increased chance of tropical storm-strength winds hitting the San Diego area and inland Southern California.

(Video) Here's how Tropical Storm Hilary will impact California

There is also an outside chance of what’s known as a “wet” Santa Ana event, which could bring increased winds, as the circulation pushes north.

Here is the 11 p.m. Thursday National Weather Service forecast chart for the storm’s path:

Hurricane Hilary May Have Peaked As Cat. 4 With 145 mph Winds, Forecast To Hit L.A. Late Sunday; Tropical Storm Watch Issued For Much Of Southern CA (4)

Only one full-blown tropical storm has hit the coast of California in recorded history: the Long Beach tropical storm that made landfall near San Pedro in 1939, according to the NWS. No tropical cyclone has made landfall in California at hurricane intensity in recorded history.

Earlier today, the National Weather Service issued the first-ever tropical storm watch for Southern California. Per NWS, “A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.”

(Video) Hurricane Hilary Update | First-ever tropical storm watch issued for California

Two factors tend to keep Southern California safe from such storms: coldersea surface temperatures, which take their fuel away, andupper-level steering windsin the eastern Pacific. This year’s El Niño event means ocean temperatures are much warmer than usual, with the water in Malibu registering 70 degrees today. Normally, 67 or 68 degrees is the warmest coastal ocean temperatures get in the summer in Los Angeles.

Still, hurricane tracks are tricky to predict, especially days out. A recent National Weather Service forecast for Hilary indicates: “There remains a very large spread in the ultimate track so this remains a very low confidence forecast in terms of the track as well as the impacts. However, having said that, virtually all the GEFS ensemble members show moderate to heavy rain amounts, especially south of Point Conception.”

That rainfall currently is pegged at a large accumulation for summer in Southern California with, per the NWS, “several solutions at or above 2.5″ and as high as 2.9” and “100 percent chance of rain” for much of Los Angeles. So the probability of a very anomalous rain event is certainly increasing. The official rain total forecast currently is around 1″-2″ area-wide Sunday through Tuesday but with the potential for much higher (or lower) amounts depending on the actual track. But that’s the low end. “Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches, with isolated amounts in excess of 8 inches, will be possible across portions of southern California and southern Nevada,” per the latest NWS update.

August is generally L.A.’s driest month, with an average annual rainfall of 0″.

Just before 4 p.m. Thursday, the NWS issued a flood watch for Los Angeles and Ventura Counties “from sunday afternoon through Monday evening.” According to the Weather Channel, flood watches have also been issued for much of San Diego, Orange, Imperial and Riverside Counties.

There could also be lightning which, if the storm hits some areas with wind but without rain, could create fire danger.

Hurricane Hilary May Have Peaked As Cat. 4 With 145 mph Winds, Forecast To Hit L.A. Late Sunday; Tropical Storm Watch Issued For Much Of Southern CA (5)

(Video) Tropical Storm Watch Issued For Portions Of Southern California As Hilary Remains Category 4 Storm

In terms of waves, the NWS indicates that Hilary “will bring the potential for hazardous marine conditions to all coastal waters starting this Sunday. While any wind/weather impacts from these systems over the local area are highly uncertain, long-period, steep, southerly swells and high surf will be possible during the upcoming weekend and beyond.”

Surf forecaster Surfline is predicting waves from 4-6 feet in Northern L.A. County and 8-10 feet in certain spots of Northern Orange County, like Surfside. Those estimates can drop radically in 24 hours, however, should the storm hew closer to the coast of Baja California — or rise considerably if Hilary were to move out further into Southern California’s swell window. Indeed, just Wednesday, Surfline was predicting 15-20′ surf in Northern L..A., which would have been an ultra-rare occurrence for the region in summer.

Here is Friday’s NWS Los Angeles forecast:

Hurricane Hilary will weaken to a tropical storm as it approaches Southern California this weekend. Flash flooding will be possible across the whole region, with rare and dangerous flooding possible across the mountains and deserts. Strong, tropical-storm-force winds will be possible Sunday through Monday, strongest over the mountains, valleys, and foothills of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

Hilary continues to slowly bend to the right, and the initial motion is northwestward or 315/10 kt. A general north-northwest to north motion with a steady increase in forward speed is expected tonight and through the weekend as the system is steered by pronounced steering flow between a strong subtropical ridge over the south-central U.S. and a mid- to upper-level low off the central California coast. The models have trended faster this cycle, and the NHC forecast has followed suit. Based on the latest forecast, the core of Hilary is expected to be very near the central portion of Baja California Saturday night and move inland over southern California by Sunday night. It should be noted that strong winds and heavy rains will occur well ahead of the center.

Fluctuations in the hurricane’s strength are expected through tonight, but Hilary is expected to begin weakening on Saturday as it moves over progressively cooler SSTs and into an environment of increasing shear and drier air. The NHC intensity forecast is lower than the previous one, partially due to the lower initial intensity, and a little higher than the HCCA and IVCN models.

(Video) Tracking Hilary: storm strengthens to Category 4 Hurricane, San Diego braces for tropical storm-forc


  1. Heavy rainfall associated with Hilary will begin well in advance of the center, from the Baja California Peninsula into the Southwestern United States. Preparations for the impacts of flooding from rainfall should be completed as soon as possible, as heavy rain will increase ahead of the center on Saturday. In the Southwestern United States, flash, urban, and arroyo flooding is expected, with the potential for dangerous and locally catastrophic impacts.
  2. Hurricane conditions are expected within portions of the hurricane warning area along the west-central coast of the Baja California Peninsula Saturday night and are possible in the Hurricane Watch area.
  3. Tropical storm conditions are possible by late Sunday in portions of southern California where a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect.
  4. Large swells generated by Hilary will affect portions of the coast of southwestern Mexico, the Baja California peninsula, and south California over the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.


Will LA be affected by Hurricane Hilary? ›

Hilary's track has shifted slightly eastward. The risk for coastal flooding in L.A. County has perhaps dropped, but flooding risks inland still remain significant, and especially dangerous in the deserts and mountains.

How bad is Category 4 hurricane? ›

Category 4

"Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed.

Where is hurricane Hillary expected to hit? ›

Hurricane Hilary is expected to make landfall in Southern California today : NPR. Hurricane Hilary is expected to make landfall in Southern California today Southern California may be hit by its first tropical storm in decades.

When a hurricane is strong enough citizens might be required to? ›

Sometimes, if a hurricane is strong enough, officials may require citizens to evacuate, or leave their homes, and travel to a safer place.

What to expect from hurricane Hillary? ›

Flash flooding, landslides, mudslides and debris flows over burn scars left by wildfires are expected, forecasters said. Sunday evening and overnight: The significant rain continues overnight, with rainfall totals increasing to remarkable levels in the mountains and the desert.

How long does a hurricane last? ›

The dangers of a storm include torrential rains, high winds and storm surges. A hurricane can last for 2 weeks or more over open water and can run a path across the entire length of the Eastern Seaboard. The 74 to 160 mile per hour winds of a hurricane can extend inland for hundreds of miles.

Can a house survive a Category 4 hurricane? ›

A Category 4 storm can cause significant damage to frame-built homes, too. Even well-built homes could sustain damage to the roof, doors and windows.

Can a Category 4 hurricane destroy a house? ›

Category 4 hurricane

Category 4 storms can cause "catastrophic damage" with their 130-156 mph winds. A Category 4 storm can cause severe damage to well-constructed homes, including damaging most of the roof and exterior walls.

How far inland can a Category 4 hurricane go? ›

How far inland do hurricanes go? Hurricanes can travel up to 100 – 200 miles inland. However, once a hurricane moves inland, it can no longer draw on heat energy from the ocean and weakens rapidly to a tropical storm (39 to 73 mph winds) or tropical depression.

What state is most likely to be hit by a hurricane? ›

  • Florida. Of all U.S. states, Florida is the most likely to be hit by a hurricane. ...
  • Texas. Texas comes in second for the highest number of hurricanes that have made landfall since 1851. ...
  • Louisiana. ...
  • North Carolina. ...
  • Will Your State Be Hit?

Where gets the worst hurricane? ›

It probably comes as no surprise that Florida has been hit by more hurricanes than any other state since the inception of the Saffir/Simpson scale in 1851. Its location directly between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico makes it susceptible to hurricanes that come from either side.

What is the most hurricane impacted city of the US? ›

The Top 50!!
  1. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. every 1.30 years. ...
  2. Morehead City, North Carolina. every 1.48 years. ...
  3. Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas. every 1.61 years. ...
  4. Wilmington, North Carolina. every 1.66 years. ...
  5. Cayman Islands. every 1.68 years. ...
  6. Bermuda. ...
  7. Great Abaco Island, Bahamas. ...
  8. Andros Isl,Bahamas.

How should a house be built to survive a hurricane? ›

  1. ROOF WITH INTENTION. To protect your property from water damage and flying shingles it is imperative to make sure that your roofing is attached well. ...
  4. ELEVATION. ...

When and where was the worst hurricane in the United States? ›

1. Galveston Hurricane (August 1900) The Galveston Hurricane was the deadliest weather disaster in U.S. history, according to NOAA. The storm system formed over the Atlantic, and traveled to the Gulf of Mexico, while picking up strength and speed.

How do you survive a hurricane if you can't evacuate? ›

Staying at Home
  1. Determine your best protection for high winds and flooding.
  2. Take shelter in a designated storm shelter or an interior room for high winds.
  3. Stay away from glass windows and doors.
  4. Move to higher ground before flooding begins.

Why is Southern California not likely to be hit with a hurricane? ›

The California Current is an ocean current that brings cold water from the Gulf of Alaska down the coast of California. This keeps our water temperatures down to 55-75 degrees year round,” said FOX40 meteorologist Adan Epstein. “Hurricanes draw their energy from warm water that is at least 80 degrees.

Can a hurricane hit Los Angeles? ›

Usually, only the remnants of tropical cyclones affect California. Since 1900, only three still-tropical storms have hit California, one by direct landfall from offshore, and another two after making landfall in Mexico. No tropical cyclone has ever made landfall in California at hurricane intensity in recorded history.

Does Los Angeles have a hurricane season? ›

However, in late summer and into September, the waters may sneak into low 70-degree territory, which is the most common time to see remnants of tropical systems impact this region. Waters in the eastern North Pacific near California are generally too cool to support hurricane formation.


1. Hurricane Hilary: Downtown Los Angeles Now Under Expanded Tropical Storm Watch
(FOX Weather)
2. Tropical update: Hurricane Hilary in the Pacific, many areas of interest in the Atlantic
3. Southern California coastal communities bracing for arrival of Hurricane Hilary
(KTLA 5)
4. More on Hurricane Hilary's impact
(FOX 11 Los Angeles)
5. [Saturday] Hurricane Hilary Nearing Landfall; Watching Multiple Atlantic Systems
(Tropical Tidbits)
6. Hurricane Hilary Headed Towards California, How Dangerous Will The Impacts Be?
(David Schlotthauer )
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated: 12/09/2023

Views: 5549

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.