The United States National Hurricane Center warns that Tropical Storm Hilary could cause “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and the southwestern United States through Monday.
On Sunday morning, forecasters downgraded Hilary from a hurricane to a tropical storm. They later said, however, that Hilary was still suffering from winds blowing at 100 kilometers (65 miles) per hour and that she had made landfall above the Baja California peninsula, about 340 kilometers (215 miles) away. southeast of the major US city of San Diego, California. .
Forecasters said the storm was moving rapidly northwest at more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour and was expected to accelerate to an even faster speed. The hurricane center said the storm would reach areas of southern California, the most populous state in the United States, by Sunday afternoon.
Tropical storms are common and occur annually on the eastern and southern coasts of the United States, but rare in western states. The last to hit California was in 1997.
Even though Hilary has weakened, Deanne Criswell, administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, told CNN “State of the Union” show that Southern Californians should take it seriously. “Listen to local officials and make sure it doesn’t put them at risk,” Criswell said.
Some of the flood threats from Hilary are expanding into southwestern Arizona and southern Nevada and even further north in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the westernmost US state of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean is dealing with the aftermath of deadly wildfires that nearly destroyed the historic town of Lahaina on the island of Maui. two weeks ago. The fires have claimed at least 114 lives and up to 1,000 residents are still missing.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are scheduled to travel to Maui on Monday, accompanied by Criswell.
Criswell told CNN that 78% of Maui has now been searched for victims of the deadliest wildfires in the United States in more than 100 years. Despite the large number of Lahaina residents missing, she hopes “they might be living with friends or relatives.”
She told ABC’s ‘This Week’ that only 40 wildfire survivors remain in shelters, while others who managed to escape have been placed in hotels, motels and hostels. short term rental centers in Maui.
She said the task of government officials helping them is to ask, “What are their long-term plans? She said the answers might be different for everyone.
Criswell said the Bidens will be able to “feel that devastation…and reassure the people of Maui that we are here for them.”
Some Maui survivors have expressed concern that Lahaina will be rebuilt solely as a tourist mecca with large hotels and stores catering to the wealthy, rather than a community of Hawaiians that would also be a tourist attraction.
Criswell said it was important for the Bidens and government officials to hear from Maui residents and listen to “their version of how they want to rebuild.”