MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Hurricane Hilary hurtled towards Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Saturday, a U.S. government agency said, blanketing the region with heavy rain amid warnings of catastrophic and life-threatening flooding on the peninsula and the U.S. Southwest.
One man died in the Baja California Sur state when a family of five was swept away into the sea while crossing a stream, according to a Mexican official, who also shared images of flooded and roads that were swept away in the area.
In the United States, the hurricane was disrupting flights and sports games.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the hurricane was weakening on its path to the west-central coast of the peninsula on Saturday evening. It predicted it would lose more strength and turn into a tropical storm as it heads towards southern California on Sunday.
But dangerous rains and coastal storm surges remain a major concern, the NHC said, with up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rainfall expected in some regions of Baja California and California.
“Flash and urban flooding, locally catastrophic, is expected, especially in the northern portions of the peninsula,” the Miami-based agency said in its latest advisory.
Rainfall of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated amounts of 10 inches, was expected across portions of southern California and southern Nevada as well, the NHC added.
“Dangerous to catastrophic flooding is expected,” the NHC said.
U.S. President Joe Biden received a briefing from senior staff on preparations for the hurricane and his team’s work with state and local agencies ahead of the storm, the White House said.
In the Baja California peninsula, some school and other non-essential activities were canceled through Monday, and authorities in Mexico’s second-largest city, Tijuana, urged people in high-risk zones to move to temporary shelters.
Images shared on social media showed flash floods in the coastal town of Santa Rosalia, on the eastern side of the Baja California peninsula, with water gushing down what used to be a road, sweeping away a tree.
Some 30 miles (48 km) south, in the town of Mulege, where the one person died when crossing a stream, Municipal President Edith Aguilar Villavicencio said on her Facebook (NASDAQ: META) account that Mexico’s Navy and local firefighters were rescuing people.
As of 0600 GMT, Hilary was about 450 miles south-southeast of San Diego, the NHC said. The storm was moving north-northwest at nearly 20 miles per hour (32 kph), packing maximum sustained winds of nearly 85 mph.
U.S. authorities have warned citizens and businesses to take precautions.
Nearly 200 flights scheduled for Sunday at the San Diego International Airport have been canceled and another 184 on Monday, according to the FlightAware website.
In California, Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles-based Dodgers and Angels brought their Sunday games forward to Saturday to turn them into split doubleheaders.
The city’s soccer teams, Los Angeles FC and LA Galaxy, both postponed their Sunday matches due to threat of heavy rains and flooding.