SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Hurricane Hilary is building steam as it heads toward the western United States. What started as a tropical storm is now being described by the National Hurricane Center as a “large and powerful category 4 hurricane.”
With Utah so close to the projected path of Hurricane Hilary, what kind of impacts, if any, could Utahns see from the storm?
According to several graphics and forecasts provided by the National Hurricane Center, Utah could see some excessive rainfall and risks of flash flooding as the storm blows through the southwest.
The projected path of Hurricane Hilary shows it hitting the coast of Baja California as soon as Sunday afternoon before tearing north into California and through Nevada. The National Hurricane Center notes that the forecast cone for the hurricane shows the storm’s “probable path” but does not illustrate the size of the storm.
Due to proximity, Utah could see tropical moisture along with the monsoonal moisture that has been building, specifically in the southwest corner of the Beehive State, from St. George to Cedar City. This means there could be a chance of significant rain totals.
St. George is forecasted to receive one to two inches of rain from what will be left of the storm, according to the Weather Prediction Center. Salt Lake City will be less impacted, forecasted to only receive about a quarter-of-an-inch of rain from what will be left of Hurricane Hilary.
The National Hurricane Center said the entire southwest corner of Utah has a “slight” — or at least 15% chance — risk of flash flooding from the storm. While more unlikely, the rest of Utah, including the Wasatch Front, is under a “marginal” — or at least 5% chance — risk of flash flooding.
ABC4 Meteorologist Thomas Geboy said Utah could start feeling the effects of Hurricane Hilary as soon as tomorrow. Those effects will carry on through the weekend with the heaviest impacts coming Sunday into Monday.
Hurricane Hilary will have been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm by the time it reaches the southern tip of California, forecasts show. As the storm moves inland, it will downgrade again to a tropical depression, meaning winds at the strongest point of the storm will only reach speeds of 39 miles per hour.
Despite the downgrades, areas outside of Utah are expected to be hit hard from the storm. About two-and-a-half inches of rain are expected to dump on Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The National Hurricane Center currently forecasts Los Angeles has having a slight risk of flooding while Vegas has at least a 40%, or moderate, risk.
As Hurricane Hilary gets closer to making landfall in the southwest United States, these forecasts and predictions could change. Be sure to stay on top of the latest weather changes for the Beehive State with ABC4’s 4Warn Forecast both on-air and online.