Hurricane Hilary heads toward California. Will Sacramento be affected by a tropical storm?

Hurricane Hilary is rapidly intensifying as it moves north along the Pacific coast, and while the storm could bring intense rain to Southern California when it makes landfall in the coming days, meteorologists said it also has the potential to bring rainfall and humidity to the Sacramento region into next week.

The state issued an advisory on the storm Thursday, which noted that the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is actively supporting state and local preparations for the hurricane. Cal OES is currently in communication with the National Weather Service and emergency management officials in California counties that are in the path of the storm, according to a news release.

The State Operations Center, based in Sacramento County, is coordinating early resource and recovery efforts in preparation for the aftermath of the storm, according to the release.

On Friday, the Category 4 hurricane was south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, boasting 130 mph maximum sustained winds, weather officials said. It is currently expected to slam the Baja California peninsula with heavy winds and rain, before slowing into a tropical cyclone on Sunday and Monday as it meets cooler ocean waters near San Diego.

But in Sacramento, we won’t be facing the risk of flash flooding or knocked-over trees; the scariest thing coming our way, according to NWS meteorologist Scott Rowe, is a few muggy, humid days.

“The most that will happen for folks in the Sacramento metro area is the potential for some light rainfall,” Rowe said.

Hurricanes require tropical waters, or ocean temperatures above 80 degrees, to survive, according to Rowe. But along the California coast, ocean temperatures are much cooler, sitting in the 60s and 70s, which Rowe said will rapidly weaken Hilary.

However, he said there may be more moisture in the air in Sacramento than usual, leading to denser cloud cover and more humid days.

“It has certainly been more humid than it usually is,” Rowe said. “More cloud cover is synonymous to more moisture in the air.”

High temperatures next Monday and Tuesday in Sacramento are forecast in the upper 80s, rather than the 90s and triple-digit-days that have plagued the region as of late, and nighttime lows are expected to be in the mid-to-high 60s.

There is a chance for some light rain next Monday and Tuesday, and Rowe said forecasters will be able to provide more details by Friday as they track the progress of the storm.

Tropical storms rare in California

While the storm is currently moving toward the Baja California peninsula, it could also bring big waves and heavy rainfall to Southern California on late Sunday or early Monday and possibly into Tuesday.

If Hilary makes landfall in California, it would be the first tropical storm to do so in 84 years, according to the weather service.. However, weather forecasting officials say this is unlikely due to temperatures of California ocean waters weakening the storm.

As of Thursday morning, forecasters were predicting 1 to 3 inches of rain across most of Los Angeles County, while Riverside and San Diego counties could see 4 to 8 inches — but Rowe warns that changes in the path of the storm could significantly impact which regions experience rainfall, and how much.

Hurricane Hilary is expected to reach Southern California early Monday.
Hurricane Hilary is expected to reach Southern California early Monday.