Category 4 Hurricane Hilary hurtled towards Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Friday, a U.S. government agency said, as it issued its first ever tropical storm watch for California and warned of life-threatening and possibly catastrophic floods.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects the powerful storm to near Mexico’s popular Cabo San Lucas resort city by late on Friday, though it should weaken before hitting the U.S. West Coast this weekend, nevertheless bringing dangerous rains.
“Life-threatening and potentially catastrophic flooding are likely over much of Baja California and Southern California this weekend and early next week,” the Miami-based agency said in its latest advisory.
Mexico’s Baja California peninsula spans two states.
The northernmost one canceled non-essential public activities on Friday, including school classes through Monday, and authorities in Mexico’s second-largest city, Tijuana, urged people in high-risk zones to move to temporary shelters.
In the peninsula’s southern state, authorities postponed a local baseball match and said ports would be closed through late Friday.
“Without being alarmist, we must all take precautions and stock up on water and basic necessities at home, without resorting to panic buying,” the state’s governor said.
NHC Deputy Director Jamie Rhome warned of flood risks from San Diego to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with particularly high risks around the Palm Springs area.
“If you’ve got weekend plans, it’s probably time to start altering those plans,” he said. Major League Baseball moved up a trio of Sunday games in Southern California to Saturday.