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Torrance News Torch

After the Storm

Students return to Torrance High just days after tropical storm Hilary passes through first.

Just as the first day of school was rapidly approaching, Mother Earth decided to end summer break with a bang. Or, at least with some really strong winds. And a lot of rain. 

For the first time since 1939, California was hit with a tropical storm. 

Hurricanes and tropical storms are usually natural disasters that plague the eastern coasts of the United States, not the west. Really, hurricanes are the only natural disasters that California doesn’t get (though we don’t see a lot of tornadoes or volcanic eruptions, either). 

The reason California is typically safe from hurricanes is due to the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. But, with the rising ocean temperatures this year, it seems the waters off the coast of Mexico were perfect for brewing a dangerous storm. 

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Originally, the storm (dubbed Hurricane Hilary) was labeled as a Category 3 hurricane, but as it approached the California coast it was demoted to a tropical storm instead. 

Weather alerts were sent out by local authorities, warnings of flash floods and mudslides were released, and California governor Gavin Newsom declared that much of Southern California would be in a state of emergency. The Los Angeles Unified School District reported that all schools in the district would be closed (despite it only being the second week of their school year) in preparation for the extreme weather. All in all, it was forecasted that Southern California would get nearly a year’s amount of rain within one storm, and citizens were told to batten down the hatches. 

Tropical storm Hilary formed over the Pacific Ocean in the days of mid-August off the coast of Mexico and picked up speed as it drifted toward Southern California. In the end, the storm hit landfall early Sunday, August 20, ravaging through Baja California before traveling farther up the coast, losing momentum along the way. 

So, what was the damage? 

California is a state notorious for its lack of water. In fact, it was only several months ago that we were declared to be out of a drought. So, what happened when California was suddenly hit by a surge of rainfall? Where did all of that water go?

The answer: the streets. 

Streets all across Southern California flooded. Officials warned citizens not to drive unless absolutely necessary, and in certain parts of San Bernardino county, residents were asked to evacuate due to the excessive amounts of water. Palm Springs got over 2 inches of rain within only 6 hours of the storm hitting, and Los Angeles was hit with 3 inches of rain overall from the tropical storm

But as if one natural disaster wasn’t enough, California was rocked with an earthquake Sunday afternoon. Originating in Ventura county and measuring in at 5.1 on the Richter scale, the quake thankfully caused very little structural damage. The earthquake still shocked the state, as Californians could not believe their bad luck. 

In the end, Tropical Storm Hilary and the earthquake caused minimal damage, to the relief of Californians. In true South Bay fashion, the storm blew out Sunday night towards Nevada, leaving the skies blue and the sun shining Monday morning, no evidence in sight of the squall that arrived just a day earlier. 

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