Hurricane Hilary Intensifies To Category 4 And Threatens Travel Disruptions In Mexico And U.S.

Hurricane Hilary Intensifies To Category 4 And Threatens Travel Disruptions In Mexico And U.S.

Travelers with plans to visit Baja California or the American Southwest may need to watch for Hurricane Hilary, a storm in the Pacific Ocean slated to hit over the weekend or early next week.

Over the last 48 hours, the storm strengthened into an official hurricane and moved to within 425 miles of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Hilary’s maximum sustained winds measured 140 miles per hour, making it a Category 4 hurricane.

The storm is not expected to retain its hurricane status as it moves on to land. Officials at the National Hurricane Center expect the storm to move west-northwest and turn more to the northwest Friday/Saturday. Tropical storm conditions, including winds, heavy rain of up to 10 inches, and large swells are expected to accompany Hilary as she moves up the Baja Peninsula and into Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. 

“Heavy rainfall from Hilary may produce flash floods and landslides over parts of Baja California through the weekend,” the National Hurricane Center said in a message on Twitter. “Rainfall impacts in the SW US are expected to peak this weekend into Monday. Flash, urban, and arroyo flooding has the potential for significant local impacts.”

Travelers to the area may experience power outages and flooding that will impact their trips. As well, the high winds could have a major effect on flights.

Several U.S. airlines that fly to Los Cabos, Mexico — including American Airlines and Southwest — issued advisories for travel from Friday through Sunday that warned flights could be delayed, changed or canceled. 

“Customers holding reservations to, from, or through [Los Cabos] on Friday, August 18, through Sunday, August 20, and want to alter their travel plans may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby without paying additional charges,” Southwest said in a statement on their website.

While hurricanes are common in the Atlantic Ocean, a hurricane-level storm in the Eastern Pacific is unusual

“It is rare — indeed nearly unprecedented in the modern record — to have a tropical system like this move through Southern California,” said Greg Postel, a hurricane expert for The Weather Channel.

Any travelers with plans to visit affected areas should contact their airline to learn about delays or cancellations, and check with their accommodation provider about possible closures.