The storm is forecast to move north parallel to the Baja California peninsula from Friday. It will then turn west from the coast off the US border with Mexico, but not before making the closest pass to Southern California for a hurricane since 1997’s Hurricane Nora.
Kay is expected to remain at hurricane strength for about 250 miles from San Diego, according to the National Weather Service, something only four other hurricanes have done since 1950, weakening before it comes closer.
But San Diego NWS meteorologist Brandt Maxwell said, “The storm doesn’t need to be strong for it to be a major concern for Southern California.”
Forecasters have warned that instead of providing relief, the system could exacerbate the region’s extreme heat problems.
Winds can gust in excess of 60 mph as the system approaches the mountainous areas of Southern California. And those winds will be coming from the east, which means they’ll have a warming effect on coastal cities. As air moves down the mountains, it compresses and its temperature rises.
“We’re not calling it the Santa Ana wind, but they will have their characteristics as they pass through canyons and sloping terrain,” Maxwell told CNN.
Hot, dry winds from the east will increase the risk of fire in the region. In coastal areas of San Diego and Orange County, temperatures could reach 100 degrees on Friday.
“It occurred in 1984 as Category 1 Hurricane Mary southwest of San Diego County, causing temperatures to reach 100 in San Diego,” Maxwell said.
Nighttime lows can remain in the 80s on Thursday night and Friday morning, making it uncomfortable to sleep, especially for those who don’t have air conditioning.
Then, late Friday, the relentless heat “will abruptly and unusually end”, the Los Angeles NWS said, as the tropical system’s cloud cover and precipitation move into the region, drastically reducing temperatures but posing new threats. We do.
“Confidence is rapidly building for a significant rainfall event on Saturday in southern California, Arizona, and eventually central California and Nevada,” forecasters at the Weather Prediction Center wrote Wednesday.
Eastward slopes near the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountain ranges may see the heaviest rainfall with a maximum of 4 inches as of Friday. The WPC on Friday issued a rare level of 3 out of 4 for excessive rainfall in the region.
Even though dry Southern California is in dire need of rain, creeks and rivers can grow rapidly due to so much rain in a short period of time.
“Having too much rain at once is never a good thing, a symptom very common in slow-moving tropical storms,” the WPC said. “Thus, the chances of flash floods are also increasing rapidly.”