In a rare occurrence, a former hurricane may hit Los Angeles this weekend with tropical storm-force winds (39-73 mph) and heavy rain. What is now Tropical Storm Hilary off the coast of Mainland Mexico is forecast to become a hurricane by 1 p.m. Thursday and a major hurricane (Cat 3 and above) by 1 a.m. Saturday. By 1 p.m. Sunday, Hilary is expected to become a lesser hurricane and then hit Southern California and potentially Los Angeles as a tropical storm.

Only one full-blown tropical storm has hit the coast of California in recorded history: the Long Beach tropical storm that made landfall near San Pedro in 1939, according to the NWS. No tropical cyclone has ever made landfall in California at hurricane intensity in recorded history.

Two factors tend to keep Southern California safe from such storms: Colder sea surface temperatures, which take their fuel away, and upper-level steering winds in the eastern Pacific. This year’s El Niño event means ocean temperatures are much warmer than usual, with the water in Malibu registering 70 degrees today. Normally, 67 or 68 degrees is the warmest coastal ocean temperatures get in the summer in Los Angeles.

Still, hurricane tracks are tricky to predict, especially four days out. The most recent National Weather Service forecast for Hilary indicates, “There remains a very large spread in the ultimate track so this remains a very low confidence forecast in terms of the track as well as the impacts. However, having said that, virtually all the GEFS ensemble members show moderate to heavy rain amounts, especially south of Pt. Conception.”

That rainfall is currently pegged at a large accumulation for summer in Southern California with, per the NWS, “several solutions at or above 2.5″ and as high as 2.9.” So the probability of a very anomalous rain event is certainly increasing. The official rain total forecast currently is around 1- 2″ area wide Sunday through Tuesday but with the potential for much higher (or lower) amounts depending on the actual track.”…Source – Read More!

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