SAN DIEGO — With Hurricane Hilary heading towards Southern California, officials are urging residents to prepare for flooding amid the barrage of rain forecasted to hit the region over the weekend.
As of 8:30 p.m. Saturday, the hurricane was graded as Category 1, meaning winds range from 74 to 95 miles per hour.
While forecasters are anticipating the storm to weaken by the time it reaches the San Diego County region, inclement weather advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service for parts of the region.
That includes a Tropical Storm Warning and a flood watch, meaning that residents should be prepared for potential impacts from strong winds and torrential downpour.
According to NWS, widespread precipitation — ranging from about three to 10 inches in some areas — is likely to pose the biggest threat to residents.
While staying in place is one of the best ways officials encourage residents to stay safe, heavier rains could create conditions for possible flash flooding events. This is especially true for residents along the east slopes of the mountains into the adjacent deserts.
In case of this kind of flooding, it’s important residents have a plan to evacuate their homes to seek higher ground, according to NWS.
Here’s some tips for how to prepare for different flooding situations that could happen in your neighborhood during Hilary’s impact.
Figure out the flood risk in your area
Check a flood map to understand the risk of flooding in your community, including whether or not your home is in a flood zone.
According to officials, flood zones are areas that have potential for flooding during heavy rains or a weather disaster.
Both state and federal government agencies have online information that can help residents determine their risk to different hazards — including whether or not they’re in a flood zone — by plugging in their address into a search tool.
Below are a handful of tools that residents can use to better understand their flood risk:
- FEMA Flood Map Service Center (Official public source for flood hazard information, including maps and other resources to get understanding of flood risk)
- Cal OES MyHazards tool (State tool for public to discover hazards in their area and learn steps to reduce personal risk)
Make an emergency plan within your household based on these possible risks, including a disaster kit.
Prepare your home for flooding
San Diego officials encourage residents to prepare your home for possible flooding by taking the following steps:
- Sweep and pick up trash, leaves, grass clippings and other debris that collect around storm drains and curb gutters near your home.
- Keep the lid securely closed on trash and recycle bins when placing them on the street for collection. Place each about two to three feet away from the curb as to not impede stormwater flow.
- Proactively turn off irrigation to save water and minimize runoff.
- Inspect your property for loose tree branches or trees that could be vulnerable to high winds and rain. Prepare accordingly.
- Place sandbags to divert water and mud away from your home.
- Secure outdoor furniture and other items that could be vulnerable to move in high winds and rain.
Staying safe during a flood advisory
Certain parts of San Diego County are currently under a flood watch. This advisory differs from a warning in it that residents should be prepared for a flood, but it is not necessarily a certainty that it will occur.
A warning means that residents in a certain area should take immediate action because a flash flood event is imminent or already occurring. This action includes evacuating to higher ground.
If you are put under a flood warning, emergency officials urge residents to find safe shelter right away.
Depending on your flood risk, this could mean staying in place, moving to a higher ground or floor, or evacuating. Have a plan in place for each scenario, including multiple options for possible evacuation routes from your home.
If an evacuation order is implemented for your community, officials say to follow it immediately.
When evacuating, stay within any barricades that might have been put up on roads in your neighborhood — these are used by emergency responders to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
On the road, emergency officials urge motorists to avoid walking, swimming and driving through flooding waters. They also encourage staying off bridges over fast-moving water.
Residents are encouraged to stay in the loop about warnings and alerts by signing up with a local emergency notification system.
San Diegans can sign up for Alert San Diego to get the latest updates either via email or text message. Residents can also download the SD Emergency App, which includes features such as an emergency plan creation tool, supply lists, local updates, an interactive emergency map and shelter locations.
“My ask of San Diegans is to prepare yourselves. Be apart of the solution,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in a press conference on Friday. “It will be a very significant storm event late Sunday through early Monday. We know that, we see that coming now, so let’s prepare.”