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Southern California is bracing for significant heavy rainfall and extensive flooding as Hurricane Hilary reaches the region, forecasters say. Hilary, which intensified to category 4 status Friday, will still be a hurricane when reaching the West Coast of the Baja California peninsula Saturday night. However, it’s expected to weaken into a tropical storm as it approaches Southern California Sunday afternoon. For the first time, a tropical storm watch was placed in parts of Southern California Friday from the California-Mexico border to the Orange-Los Angeles County line, and on Catalina Island. Located about 240 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California on Saturday morning, Hilary was considered “large and powerful” by the National Hurricane Center with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. Hilary sped up and took a slight eastward shift in its track, the National Weather Service in San Diego said early Saturday, meaning its most significant impacts will be from Sunday morning through the evening. The National Weather Service encourages residents to secure valuables around homes and avoid driving on flooded roads. When will Hilary hit Southern California? Despite Hilary weakening on approach, parts of Southern California could see impacts as soon as Saturday, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Scott Homan. “However, the impacts of the storm will be well ahead of that as lots of moisture gets strung northward into the storm system and then moves north into California,” Homan told USA TODAY. Hurricane season is about to start:San Diego could see rainfall by Saturday evening, while Los Angeles residents can expect rainfall Sunday afternoon, Homan said. He said Los Angeles, Anaheim, Santa Barbara and San Diego could see about 4 inches of rainfall while desert areas like Palm Springs and the Sierra Nevadas face the potential of 4 to 8 inches. Hilary is expected to weaken into a Category 3 hurricane by late Saturday afternoon and diminish into a tropical storm by Sunday afternoon.
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