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Hurricane Hilary Poses Threat of Catastrophic Floods to Mexico and California

Category 4 Hurricane Hilary threatens Mexico's Baja California peninsula and brings risk of life-threatening floods to California.

Category 4 Hurricane Hilary is rapidly approaching Mexico's Baja California peninsula, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), which has issued its first ever tropical storm watch for California. The NHC predicts that the powerful storm will reach Cabo San Lucas by Friday evening local time, although it is expected to weaken before reaching the US West Coast over the weekend. Despite this, dangerous rains are still expected.

The NHC has issued a warning of potentially life-threatening and catastrophic flooding in Baja California and Southern California over the weekend and into early next week. As a result, the northernmost state of Baja California has cancelled non-essential public activities, including school classes, until Monday. Authorities in Tijuana, Mexico's second-largest city, have urged residents in high-risk areas to move to temporary shelters. In the southern state of Baja California, a local baseball match has been postponed and ports will remain closed until late Friday.

The governor of Baja California has emphasized the need for precautions, urging residents to stock up on water and basic necessities without resorting to panic buying. NHC Deputy Director Jamie Rhome has warned of flood risks from San Diego to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with a particular focus on the Palm Springs area. Rhome advises that if individuals have plans for the weekend, it may be necessary to alter them. Major League Baseball has rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California to Saturday.

Although cold waters off the California coastline typically weaken incoming storms, Rhome explains that Hurricane Hilary is expected to maintain its strength due to its fast movement. The hurricane is currently moving west-northwest at a speed of nearly 19km/h, with maximum sustained winds of almost 215km/h after being upgraded to a Category 4 storm overnight.

Rhome further warns that California and southern Nevada face severe flooding risks due to expected rainfall of up to 25.4cm. The NHC also cautions that a storm surge could result in coastal flooding and destructive waves along the Baja California peninsula.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that this is the first time it has issued a high-risk warning for the desert regions of southeastern California. Following a record-breaking summer heat wave, heavy rains are anticipated in California, Nevada, and neighboring Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona experienced temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43C) throughout July, while California's Death Valley desert reached 128F (53C), among the highest temperatures recorded on Earth in the past 90 years. Tens of millions of Americans were placed under heat alerts during this time.

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