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County Supervisors declare emergency as Hilary heads to San Diego

By Miriam Raftery

August 19, 2023 (San Diego) – The County of San Diego tonight issued an emergency declaration to deploy all available resources, following a state emergency declaration earlier today. Now a category one hurricane, Hilary is still on track to hit San Diego as a tropical storm Sunday in the late afternoon and early evening.

A flood watch and tropical storm warning are now in effect for all of San Diego County. A tropical storm, also known as a tropical cyclone, has sustained winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour; a hurricane has sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. 

The danger has prompted cancellation of everything from airline flights to a Padre game on Sunday, as well as closures of parks and beaches across the region.

Airlines have cancelled 73 flights Sunday that were scheduled at San Diego International airport, according to the tracking site  FlightAware.

Amtrak has cancelled Pacific Surfliner trains Sunday and Monday. Metropolitan Transit System advises trolley and bus riders to check this site to learn of any cancellations or delays in service, but urges riders to avoid unnecessary travel.

All state, county and city beaches in San Diego County are closed Sunday. All state parks, including Anza-Borrego in East County, are shut down. Mission Trails Regional Park is also closed Sunday. Cleveland National Forests asks hikers not to visit the park during the storm. Public buildings in San Diego are also closed.

The U.S. Navy has taken the unprecedented step of sending around 10 warships to sea out of San Diego Bay to ride out the storm; other ships are being lashed down in port, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The San Diego Padres played a double-header tonight to make up for tomorrow's cancelled game.

The latest forecast from the National Weather service shows rainfall trending heavier, up to 12 inches in San Diego County’s mountain areas, with 1-2 inches per hour expected. Heaviest will be on the eastern mountain slopes.

Low deserts could get 7 inches of rain with 1-2 inches per hour.  High deserts could get up to 5 inches, with .5 to 1.5 inches per hour.  Valleys and coastal areas are forecast to get 1.5 to 2.5 inches total, with up to .75 inches per hour.

The risk of flash flooding in San Diego County ranges from 40 to 70%, with the highest risks in inland areas due to the storm’s trajectory.

The tropical cyclone will continue northward after it leaves San Diego, causing potentially damaging winds and rains as far north as Nevada.

Outer bands of the hurricane have already reached portions of our region, sparking an estimated 1,000 cloud-to-cloud lightning flashes over San Diego’s deserts shortly before dawn Saturday,  the National Weather Service reports.

Gabrielle Schultz provided this dramatic video of a lightning storm early Saturday morning in Jacumba Hot Springs.










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