Tropical Storm Hilary Is Still Snarling Travel, Here's What to Know

Hilary marked California's first tropical storm since 1939 and is bringing massive flooding to the region.

tropical storm hilary flooding california travel impacts
A car is partially submerged in floodwaters as Hilary moved through Cathedral City, California on Sunday. | Mario Tama/Getty Images News
A car is partially submerged in floodwaters as Hilary moved through Cathedral City, California on Sunday. | Mario Tama/Getty Images News

Even as Hurricane Hilary weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall in the southwest US on Sunday, the system is continuing to have a significant impact on the region.

The US National Hurricane Center's latest advisory as of this writing notes that the system is now a post-tropical cyclone and warns that it will continue to bring "life-threatening and potentially catastrophic flooding" to the southwest US on Monday. The storm is currently moving north and was anticipated to move quickly across Nevada through the day with maximum sustained winds nearing 35 mph before the dissipating later in the day. All coastal warnings have been discontinued.

In the meantime, the system was expected to bring an additional 2 to 4 inches of rainfall to portions of southern California and southern Nevada on Monday, with isolated rainfall totals for the entire storm reaching 12 inches. Portions of Idaho and Oregon were expected to see 1 to 3 inches of rain with local maximums up to 5 inches through Tuesday morning.

Hilary was the first tropical storm to make landfall in southern California in 84 years. As the Associated Press reports, it first made landfall in Ensenada and proceeded to bring soaking rains to Mexico's Baja California peninsula and severe flooding, mudslides, and downed trees to areas including the popular city of Palm Springs. The rainfall in some areas, like Palm Springs, exceeded more than half of an average year's worth of rain. In addition to Hilary, southern California also experienced an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 that could be felt in the region on Sunday.

Hilary, of course, has also made an extensive impact on travel throughout the region. Ahead of the storm, major airlines announced that they would waive change and cancel fees for customers planning on traveling through Los Cabos, Loreto, Harry Reid (LAS), and eight California airports including Hollywood Burbank, LAX, Long Beach, Ontario, Palm Springs, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and John Wayne (SNA). The dates and specific travel policies vary from each airline, but details from several major airlines can be found below:


If your airline is not listed above, you can seek out the travel advisory section of their website or contact the carrier directly to learn more about their flight change policies for Tropical Storm Hilary.

The system has also brought a surge of flight cancellations to the region. According to FlightAware, 1,058 flights within, into or out of the US were canceled on Sunday, including 348 originating or departing from Harry Reid (LAS), 252 originating or departing from San Diego, and 136 originating or departing from Phoenix. Southwest Airlines canceled 714 flights on Sunday, 17% of its total schedule, while Frontier canceled 79 flights, 13% of its total.

On Monday, the flight woes have continued at a less dramatic clip for Southwest, which has canceled 188 flights (4% of its total) and delayed 279 flights (6% of its total) as of this writing. Flight delays are continuing to hamper travel, though, as 1,458 flights within, into, or out of the US have been delayed so far today.

Hilary also caused a number of closures to popular tourist attractions in the area, as theme parks including Knott's Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, and the San Diego Zoo all closed on Sunday. Disneyland remained open, but did close early. Universal Studios Hollywood remained open on Sunday. All the parks planned to be open for operations on Monday.

A number of national parks also shut down or at least partially closed due to flooding risks, including Channel Islands National Park's campgrounds, Death Valley National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park. You can click through to each park to view details on closures and updates on reopening. As part of its official emergency declaration, California also closed 10 state parks and several beaches. As of this writing, 23 state parks and beaches remain closed, though updated conditions can be viewed here.

The LA Dodgers were scheduled to play the Miami Marlins at home on Sunday, but the game was moved to Saturday instead. As it turns out, Dodger Stadium saw massive flooding which promptly went viral on social media as it essentially became an "island."

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.