Hurricane Hilary continues to travel towards Southern California, and while the storm will weaken before it makes landfall, damage is still expected to be widespread.

The National Weather Service placed SoCal under its first ever tropical storm warning on Friday evening, impacting most of Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties as well as mountain communities in the Inland Empire. Almost all of San Diego County will be affected by the storm.

Major, and in some cases, historic flooding is expected throughout Southern California, according to the National Weather Service, especially in mountain and desert areas. 

“Rivers and tributaries may rapidly overflow their banks in multiple places,” NWS said. “Small streams, creeks, canals, arroyos and ditches may become dangerous rivers.” 

Hilary's path
The projected path of Hurricane Hilary. Aug. 19, 2023. (KTLA)

In addition to overflowing rivers and tributaries, runoff from mountain valleys may impact foothill communities and other areas susceptible to rockslides, mudslides and debris flows. 

“Flood waters can enter many structures within multiple communities, [with] some structures within multiple communities becoming uninhabitable or washed away,” the National Weather Service said. “Streets and parking lots become rivers of moving water with underpasses submerged, [and] driving conditions become dangerous.” 

Wind speeds are forecast to be upwards of 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 60 miles per hour, and extensive damage is expected across SoCal. 

“Porches, awnings, carports, sheds and unanchored mobile homes [could be damaged],” NWS said. “Many large tree limbs [could be] broken off [and] a few trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted. Some fences and roadway signs [could be] blown over.” 

hilary sat animation
Hurricane Hilary satellite loop. 7:40 a.m. on Aug. 19, 2023. (NOAA)

Roads in coastal communities and heavily wooded areas may be impassable, and the most hazardous driving conditions will be on bridges and other elevated roadways such as freeway on and off-ramps.  

SoCal is expected to see one to three inches of rainfall from Hurricane Hilary, with the NWS advising that evacuations and rescues are likely. 

“Heed any flood watches and warnings,” the National Weather Service said. “Failure to take action will likely result in serious injury or loss of life.”

Some desert communities may see up to a year’s worth of rain in a few days, according to KTLA 5 meteorologist Kacey Montoya. Scattered power and communications outages are also expected throughout Southern California. 

Conditions for tornadoes are “unfavorable,” and the threat of storm surge is minimal, NWS said.  

For a guide on how to prepare for Hurricane Hilary, click here.