Hurricane Hilary could create new lake in world’s hottest place as it bears down on California

Hilary will plow into the Mexican peninsula sometime on Sunday, amid concerns of “life-threatening and potentially catastrophic” floods. The US National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch from the Golden State’s Pacific coast to interior mountains and deserts — the first in Southern California in 84 years.

Meteorologists have warned that heavy rainfall could potentially turn Death Valley National Park into a massive lake, AccuWeather reports. Death Valley, the hottest place on earth, is expected to receive more than its annual two-inch rainfall, prompting major flooding and flash floods, the park said in a statement on Friday.

“Flash floods are expected to damage roads, likely making it impossible to get into or out of the park. The storm could cause a power outage. Telephone and internet connectivity may be unreliable,” it read. “The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch from Saturday, August 19, at 11:00 am and until Tuesday, August 22, at 5:00 am.”

Earlier this year, temperatures at the park neared 130 degrees. Two men died this summer while hiking trails at the park.

Death Valley has previously seen heavy rain forcing visitors to paddle around the arid park with kayaks. In 2019, a temporary lake stretching 10 miles formed at the park, according to AccuWeather.

“The trick here will be that the heaviest rain could fall across a narrow north-south oriented zone,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said in his forecast. “A small shift in the storm track could easily shift the corridor of heavy rain.

Hurricane Hilary is expected to bring heavy rain to Southern California as it grows into Category 4 off Mexico’s Baja California.

California officials have issued evacuation orders in Catalina Island and as far north as Los Angeles, where shelters are being set up for the homeless.

“I don’t think any of us — I know me particularly — never thought I’d be standing here talking about a hurricane or a tropical storm,” chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Janice Hahn, according to The Associated Press.

Hilary remained a major Category 4 hurricane late on Friday with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.

The latest forecast track pointed to Hilary making landfall along a sparsely populated area of the Baja peninsula at a point about 200 miles south of the Pacific port city of Ensenada.

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