We are in the calm before the major storm. Saturday will be mild with morning fog on the coast and in coastal valleys. Temperatures will be in the 60s for some Central Coast beaches, but otherwise in the 70s on the coast. It will be in the mid-80s to mid-90s inland.
All eyes are on Hurricane Hilary, now a Category 4 hurricane. It is expected to strengthen further on its journey up the Baja coast, then weaken to a Tropical Storm as it makes landfall near San Diego. This is of historical significance, as it will be the first tropical system to make landfall in California in the 21st Century, and the first since 1939.
Projections now show potential rain reaching the southern parts of our region as early as Sunday morning, and the heavier part of the storm hitting us around Sunday afternoon or evening. Then impacts will linger into Monday.
There are several alerts in place. There is a flood watch from 4:00 pm Sunday to 11:00 pm Monday in Ventura County and the East Santa Ynez Range. There will be periods of heavy rain from excessive rainfall, and rates could exceed 1 inch per hour at times. There is danger of flooding around small streams, creeks, arroyos, and ditches, and of debris flow in burn scars. Flooding of major roadways is possible, causing dangerous driving conditions with potential for significant travel delays due to road closures.
Currently, we are estimating 1 to 2 inches of rain for San Luis Obispo County, and for western Santa Barbara County. We are estimating 2 to 4 inches of rain for inland Ventura County, and the eastern mountains and foothills of Santa Barbara County. Localized areas could receive more rain.
The Tropical Storm Watch has been upgraded to a Tropical Storm Warning. It will be in effect Sunday to Monday for the mountains and valleys of Ventura County, and the inner waters from Point Mugu to San Mateo Point including Santa Catalina and the Anacapa Islands. Winds on land have potential to be significant or damaging. Marine danger is also significant. Southeast to northeast wind gusts of 30 to 40 knots are possible. Seas will be 5 to 8 feet at the peak. Surf will be especially high on southeast and south-facing beaches, with particular concern on Catalina Island.
There is also a Hurricane Local Statement for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and further south. It encompasses all the storm impacts above, and also includes a low risk of tornadoes and a significant risk of strong winds. Tropical storm winds are above 39 mph sustained. Portions of Ventura County could see wind gusts in the 25 to 45 mph range. The strong winds will have the potential to bring down trees and power lines as well as power outages. Fire weather conditions may be elevated prior to the rain's arrival because of the wind.
Prepare ahead of time for the storm before we start to see its impacts. Try to avoid traveling between Sunday afternoon and Monday, if possible.