Satellite and radar show the storm continues to be on a track to reach Southern California later this weekend as a tropical storm or possibly stronger.
“I’m not saying this will be a Category 1 Hurricane, but it’s going to be awfully close when it arrives in Southern California on late Sunday into Monday,” KTLA meteorologist Henry DiCarlo said.
A Category 1 hurricane reaching Southern California would be extremely rare. A hurricane is believed to have hit the San Diego area in 1858.
Tropical storm watches were issued Thursday for the southern portion of Baja California Sur, the Hurricane Center stated in its forecast.
Hilary is forecast to reach Category 3 status at some point Saturday before likely arriving in Southern California as a tropical storm late Sunday or Monday.
The storm is forecast to drop several inches of rain on the Southland, especially in the desert areas where 5 or 6 inches of rain could fall.
“When it moves onshore, it’s going to bring a lot of rain. Not just for the desert areas but for all of us here in Southern California,” DiCarlo said.
Nearly 2 inches of rain are expected to fall across the majority of the Southland, according to the National Weather Service.
Damaging winds and areas of flash flooding are also possible.
High surf between 4 to 7 feet will crash along the southeast and south-facing beaches, according to a tweet from the NWS.
“Residents on Catalina Island could be most vulnerable,” the tweet stated.
The last powerful tropical storm to hit Southern California arrived more than 80 years ago in September 1939.
The storm came ashore near San Pedro, bringing large waves and heavy rain.
The majority of damage struck the Belmont Shore area in Long Beach, where some homes were washed out to sea. Forty-eight people were killed in that storm.