Hurricane Hilary is making its way toward California and Arizona, bringing storms and flooding. As of Saturday afternoon, Hilary was churning off one of Mexico’s westernmost spurs, heading north-northwest at 17 mph and bringing severe gusts of at least 110 mph.
The now-Category One hurricane is projected to diminish dramatically as it makes landfall, but it will send significant rain to parts of the Southwest, particularly Southern California. The National Weather Service offices in Tucson, Flagstaff, and Phoenix have issued several weather advisories and warnings.
The weather service stated that most of the impact would be felt in southwestern Arizona on Saturday and Sunday, with conditions “deteriorating” in Yuma and La Paz counties. Two advisories are in effect in both of these counties:
- Flood watch from Saturday 8 a.m. until Monday 5 p.m.
- Wind advisory Sunday between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Where Did Hurricane Hilary Form?
On Wednesday, Hilary began as a tropical storm along Mexico’s southern Pacific coast. The National Storm Center upgraded Hurricane Hilary to a Category 4 storm on Friday morning and downgraded it to a Category 3 hurricane on Saturday morning. Hilary was downgraded to Category 2 by Saturday afternoon.
What’s the Difference Between a Hurricane and a Typhoon?
Hurricanes and typhoons are tropical cyclones that are called based on where they occur worldwide. It is a hurricane if the storm is in the North Atlantic or the central or eastern regions of the North Pacific. It’s a typhoon if it’s in the northwest Pacific.
If the storm happens in the South Pacific or Indian Oceans, it is referred to simply as a tropical cyclone. As a result, Hilary’s location qualifies it as a hurricane. However, as it reaches land, Hilary will most likely be downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. However, the eastern part of the storm should reach parts of western Arizona such as Yuma with gusts of up to 40 or 50 miles per hour.
Hurricane Hilary Tracker: Hurricane Hilary Tracker: Category 4 Storm Forecast to Bring Heavy Rain
Is Hurricane Hilary Going to Hit Arizona?
Hurricane Hilary, a Category 2 storm travelling north from Mexico, is expected to land in Baja California at noon on Sunday. It was still off the coast of Mexico as of Saturday afternoon.
While it will not directly impact Arizona, the National Weather Service in Tucson predicts that western Pima County and Yuma County may expect more significant precipitation and gustier winds throughout the weekend. Wind gusts in Yuma and western Pima County might reach 50 to 60 mph in certain spots closer to California. These places may also receive up to a half-inch of rain, or more or less depending on location.
Thunderstorms are expected. Saturday afternoon and evening, with relief overnight, and additional thunderstorm activity on Sunday, but it will be more “hit or miss” than Saturday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Dang.
He expects a typical monsoon day with showers and thunderstorms in Tucson, Phoenix, and northern Arizona. According to Dang, there is a “potential for localized heavy rainfall and some gusty winds, but otherwise, it doesn’t feel like a hurricane” in Tucson and communities north of Tucson. Have a look at the tweet that can be found below:
#Hilary 🧵: Rainfall impacts from Hurricane Hilary within the Southwestern United States are expected to peak this weekend into Monday. Flash, urban, and arroyo flooding is expected with the potential for significant impacts. pic.twitter.com/haRvJar8cG
— National Weather Service (@NWS) August 18, 2023
On the other hand, he said that residents living or going further away may experience more severe effects such as localized flash flooding and damaging gusts. He stated that weather patterns in Phoenix and northern Arizona will be similar to those in Tucson.
The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm or hurricane warning for southern California for the first time. While this meteorological phenomenon is not rare in Arizona, it is exceptional.
Where Else Will Hurricane Hilary Hit?
The National Hurricane Center predicted that Hilary’s impact will result in “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding likely over Baja California and the southwestern U.S. through Monday.” Hilary is expected to land in the Los Angeles metropolitan area before continuing north toward Las Vegas and into the Pacific Northwest before dissipating.
What Parts of Arizona Will Be Impacted by Hilary?
While Hurricane Hilary is not projected to hit Arizona, it will significantly impact the state’s southern regions because of its proximity to Baja California, where it is scheduled to land on Sunday.
According to the weather service, the highest risk of flash floods will be in Yuma County in Arizona, up to La Paz County in Arizona, and Riverside County in California. The prediction for Friday evening suggested that rain would begin in the evening and continue into Saturday morning. It also stated that heavy rain could damage a section of Interstate 10, as it has in the past.
The meteorological service also issued a wind advisory for southwest Arizona and southeast California from Sunday afternoon until early Monday morning, with predicted wind speeds of 35 to 45 mph, which might result in power outages from downed power lines. To learn more about these issues, please visit our website The Current Online and read our most recent blog posts.