August 20, 2023 Storm Hilary batters California after making landfall in Mexico

By Maureen Chowdhury, Aditi Sangal, Mary Gilbert, Eric Zerkel, Steve Almasy, Matt Meyer and Helen Regan, CNN

Updated 7:31 AM ET, Mon August 21, 2023
56 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:42 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

It's early Monday in Los Angeles. Here's the latest on Tropical Storm Hilary

From CNN staff

Tropical Storm Hilary crossed the US-Mexico border into California Sunday evening local time, becoming the first tropical storm in the state since Nora in 1997. 

The storm pushed into Southern California with fierce winds and heavy downpours as residents faced downed power lines and flooded streets.

Rescue workers have been called out in multiple locations, and while the storm has weakened significantly, it’s still battering California with extreme weather as it moves farther inland — adding to fears that floods and mudslides could turn deadly.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Where the storm is now: As of 11 p.m. local time, the core of Tropical Storm Hilary was roughly 10 miles southeast of Los Angeles with winds of up to 45 miles per hour, according to CNN Weather analysis. Hilary is moving north-northwest at 28 mph and its tropical storm-force winds extend out 230 miles from the center of the storm. Most of Southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, remains under tropical storm warnings.
  • Forecast: Hilary is forecast to continue to move north through California and dissipate over central Nevada on Monday, bringing “potentially historic” rainfall amounts along the way that could trigger more floods, landslides and debris flows, according to the National Weather Service.
  • Rainfall and flash flood warning: Intense rainfall up to 10 inches is possible across Southern California and Nevada through Monday morning, and rainfall up to 5 inches is possible across parts of Oregon and Idaho through Tuesday morning. This rainfall could lead to catastrophic and life-threatening flooding. “Areas that normally do not experience flash flooding will flood,” the National Weather Service said. “Lives and property are in great danger through Monday.” Multiple daily and monthly rainfall records were broken Sunday.
  • Evacuation orders: Fire department officials are pleading with the public to heed evacuation orders and stay off the road unless they are in danger. “If we ask you to evacuate, we don't take that lightly,” said Mike McClintock, Battalion Chief with the San Bernardino Fire Department. "Just 12 inches of water can whisk away your car from the roadway." The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department issued a shelter in place order for some residents because of mud and debris blocking a roadway.
  • Schools closed: The Los Angeles Unified School District — the nation’s second largest school district — will be closed Monday because of Hilary. So will campuses in the Pasadena Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District, officials said.
  • Palm Springs: Three main roads were closed and a local emergency was declared after the city received half a year’s worth of rain in just a six-hour period on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. There have been at least three swift water rescues so far in Palm Springs, police lieutenant Gustavo Araiza told CNN. The 911 emergency phone system also experienced an outage.
  • In Mexico: Hilary battered the Baja California peninsula on its way north, killing at least one person and causing major flooding in some areas. Mexican authorities have lifted the tropical storm warning for the west coast of Baja California and the east coast of the peninsula south of San Felipe. The warning has also been discontinued south of Puerto Penasco along the coast of mainland Mexico.
2:58 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

Tropical Storm Hilary brings powerful winds and rain, flooding California streets

From CNN's Nouran Salahieh and Gene Norman

A car is partially submerged in floodwaters in Cathedral City, California on August 20.
A car is partially submerged in floodwaters in Cathedral City, California on August 20. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Hilary is pushing into Southern California with fierce winds and heavy downpours as residents face downed powerlines, flooded streets and rescues needed.

Hilary is forecast to continue to move north through California and dissipate over central Nevada on Monday, bringing “potentially historic” rainfall amounts along the way that could trigger more floods, landslides and debris flows, according to the National Weather Service.

“Areas that normally do not experience flash flooding will flood,” the National Weather Service said. “Lives and property are in great danger through Monday.”

The storm could potentially be the first tropical system on record to strike Nevada.

It could also wreak havoc farther north. Rainfall up to 5 inches is possible across parts of Oregon and Idaho through Tuesday morning. This rainfall could lead to catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.

Once a hurricane, Hilary weakened as it made landfall in Mexico Sunday, where at least one person died, then it crossed over into the Golden State. The storm’s center was roughly 10 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles around 8 p.m. local time Sunday, moving north with weakened 45 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center.

While the storm has weakened significantly, it’s still battering California with extreme weather as it moves farther inland, bringing continued fears that floods and mudslides could potentially turn deadly.

Read more here.

1:59 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

Storm causes 911 outage in Palm Springs

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The 911 emergency phone system in Palm Springs, California, experienced an outage Sunday night, as the region feels the effects of Tropical Storm Hilary.

The city announced that voice lines were down in a widespread 911 outage, but said emergency services were accessible by texting 911 or calling direct lines to police and fire departments.

The city earlier declared a local emergency due to "unprecedented rainfall and flooding" from the storm, with residents asked to stay home and avoid driving.

1:44 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

Flooding closes part of highway in Cathedral City

From CNN’s Andy Rose

A section of Interstate 10 in Cathedral City, California was closed Sunday night because of heavy rains.

The California Department of Transportation said the section had to be shut down “due to flooding and debris on the highway.”

Cathedral City is about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, near Joshua Tree National Park.

1:22 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

Shelter in place order issued for some residents in San Bernardino County

From CNN’s Joe Sutton and Mike Valerio

A man loads sandbags onto a truck in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Hilary in San Bernardino, California on August 19.
A man loads sandbags onto a truck in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Hilary in San Bernardino, California on August 19. Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register/AP

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has issued a shelter in place order for some residents in the county because of mud and debris blocking a roadway.

“Due to current rain, there is mud and debris blocking the roadway. A SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER is now in effect for the community of Forest Falls, and residents on Oak Glen Road, from Casa Blanca Street to Harris Road,” the sheriff’s department said on social media.

Evacuation orders: The department also noted an evacuation order was in effect for some residents.  

“An evacuation order is now in affect for the residents of the Serrano Square neighborhood, south of Oak Glen Road and east of 2nd Street, in Yucaipa, CA," it said.

Earlier Sunday, a senior San Bernadino Fire Department officer urged residents to heed evacuation orders and stay off the road unless they are in danger. 

“If we ask you to evacuate, we don't take that lightly,” said Mike McClintock, Battalion Chief with the San Bernardino Fire Department, in an interview with CNN. “We're asking you based on predictions and concerns, and we want you to get out sooner rather than later.” 

McClintock said evacuation orders are meant to help residents escape areas that may face serious flooding, and that warnings should be heeded immediately. 

“The last thing we want you to do if we have significant rain is you try to leave last minute and then be overtaken by floodwaters,” he said.

1:08 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

Portion of highway in Barstow closed after power pole struck by lightning

From CNN’s Joe Sutton 

A portion of Interstate 15 is closed in Barstow, California due to downed power lines, according to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans.)

“A power pole in Barstow was struck by lightning at about 11 a.m. Sunday and I-15 was closed,” San Bernardino County PIO David Wert told CNN.  

Caltrans District 8 (San Bernardino/Riverside) spokesperson Eric Dionne said the interstate remains closed.  

2:25 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

Ventura County firefighters rescue 2 people from river

From CNN’s Amanda Jackson and Joe Sutton

Ventura County firefighters search the Santa Clara River on August 20.
Ventura County firefighters search the Santa Clara River on August 20.

Authorities in Ventura County conducted a search and rescue operation in the Santa Clara River Sunday evening after people became trapped.

Two people were rescued by walking out of the flooded areas, the Ventura County Fire Department PIO said in a social media post.

Videos show firefighters searching the river.

“FFs have searched the Santa Clara River and determined there to not be any more people in the river at this location. All crews are clearing the scene,” the fire department said in an update. “These locations are dangerous, please stay out river bottoms and canals.”

Most of Southern California remains under tropical storm warnings as Tropical Storm Hilary moves toward Los Angeles, where more than 9 million people are under flash flood warnings.

This post has been updated with additional information.

12:35 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

9 people rescued from riverbed in San Diego

From CNN’s Joe Sutton 

Dark clouds form over downtown San Diego as Tropical Storm Hilary passes through the area on Sunday, August 20.
Dark clouds form over downtown San Diego as Tropical Storm Hilary passes through the area on Sunday, August 20. K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune/AP

Nine people were rescued from a riverbed near the Morena Blv bridge in San Diego, a social media post from San Diego Fire-Rescue said, as the impact of Tropical Storm Hilary is felt across Southern California

No injuries were reported.

“Crews are still looking for more people who may need help,” the San Diego Fire-Rescue said.
12:18 a.m. ET, August 21, 2023

Hilary is about 10 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Here's the latest on its path

From CNN's Robert Shackelford

The core of Tropical Storm Hilary is roughly 10 miles southeast of Los Angeles with winds of up to 45 miles per hour, according to analysis from CNN Weather.

The storm crossed the US-Mexico border into California several hours ago, becoming the first tropical storm in the state since Nora in 1997. 

Hilary is moving north-northwest at 28 mph and its tropical storm-force winds extend out 230 miles from the center of the storm.

Most of Southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, remains under tropical storm warnings.

Intense rainfall up to 10 inches is possible across Southern California and Nevada through Monday morning, and rainfall up to 5 inches is possible across parts of Oregon and Idaho through Tuesday morning.

This rainfall could lead to catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.

Yellow tape marks a closed beach near the US-Mexico border as Tropical Storm Hilary approaches Playas de Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on August 20.
Yellow tape marks a closed beach near the US-Mexico border as Tropical Storm Hilary approaches Playas de Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on August 20. Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

In Mexico: Hilary battered the Baja California peninsula on its way north, killing at least one person and causing major flooding in some areas.

Mexican authorities have lifted the tropical storm warning for the west coast of Baja California and the east coast of the peninsula south of San Felipe.

The warning has also been discontinued south of Puerto Penasco along the coast of mainland Mexico. Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for San Felipe to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, the California/Mexico border to Point Mugu and Catalina Island.