OT - "Hurricane" blog

I thought I’d take a bit of time over the next couple of days to record what is happening around me as I experience my first “hurricane”. It’s in quotes because there’s no way Tropical Cyclone Hilary will be a hurricane when it reaches my area. There’s an outside chance it will still be a tropical storm, but it’s more likely to be below that when it reaches me.

I took a bit of time yesterday (Friday) to make some minor preparations. I went up on my roof to do a bit of touch up on some weak spots. I really need to replace it, but that isn’t happening yet. I had a bit of a leak in one area last winter, so I’m doing a little patching around any roof penetrations in that general area. Not really sure if it will help, but it’s better than doing nothing. I also went around the yard and cleaned things up a bit. My wife loved to have dangly bits of decor around the yard. Those all came down for now to keep them out of the wind. Also made sure patio furniture was tucked away and things generally made secure. I didn’t go overboard, but I thought it was prudent.

I’m also doing minor preparations for a power outage. Given the current track and strength, I think an outage in my area is unlikely. But even with 20 or 30 MPH winds, an outage is possible. We go through a couple of Santa Ana wind events every fall that have winds of that intensity or higher, and rarely have problems with it. I’m making sure cell phones are charged as well as my collection of portable chargers. I have some bottled water on hand, and have put several in the freezer to have some ice available if needed.

We got the first bands of clouds around 10 am this morning. As they spread, the last bit of clear blue sky was to the north west, as one would expect. I’m going to be west of the storm center as it passes by. I’m about 6 miles from the coast in central Orange County. As of the last forecast, the storm center will pass by 60 or 70 miles to the east.

As of noon, the winds were still fairly light, but coming from the ocean, which surprises me. I wouldn’t expect winds to be from that direction until after the storm center passes. My neighbor has a couple of very tall palm trees, which make great wind detectors. Perhaps we aren’t yet in the wind field of the storm. Temperature was just under 80.

I also have a flood control channel over my back fence. I’m going to try to take photos of that at regular intervals just for the curiosity of tracking that level. Flooding and water damage is the most likely source of issues for my local area. Forecasters tell me to expect between 2 and 4 inches of rain from this storm. Other areas much further inland might see as much as 10 inches. While that’s a lot of rain in a short time, typical winter storms can also produce that much rain - although usually spread over a couple of days rather than in about 24 hours. Still, I suspect that much rain is well within the local flood control capabilities. There will certainly be some localized street flooding, but I don’t expect wide spread damage in the areas around me.

So there’s a starting point. I’ll report back in a few hours with an update. Rain isn’t expected until tomorrow (Sunday) early morning. I’m guessing we’ll see some increase in the winds before then.



Where I am in central Mexico (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato) we are getting thick drizzly bands of clouds that are the outer arms of the far away Hilary.

One almost forgotten danger for people in the Los Angeles region are the enormous rain water catching abilities of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino ranges of mountains, and to a lesser degree the San Jacinto to Desert range and the Santa Ana Range. The seemingly absurdly oversized flood control channels for the Los Angeles, San Gabriel, and Santa Ana Rivers were built in response to the terrible floodings of 100 years ago when a similar storm system came along. The extremely steep mountains (only the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia competes) wring far more water out of wind blown storm clouds than most people can imagine.

Stay safe my California friends!

david fb


Quite correct. But because this storm is approaching from the south - and has a counter-clockwise circulation because, physics - it is the eastern slopes of these ranges that will pull the rain out, making things a bit easier for the coastal side of the mountains, where I am. But those east of the mountains: San Bernardino and Riverside counties, Palm Springs, and towards the borders with AZ and NV, all are subject to some dangerous flooding.

We’ll have plenty of water on this side of the mountains, but my guess is that the problems won’t be widespread, but localized.



ahh, counterclcckwise! I gotta remember that!

david fb

" it is the eastern slopes of these ranges that will pull the rain out,"

Does that mean that the basins dealing with the snow melt from last winter’s massive snow pack are going to get even more water from Hillary?

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Fill up any gaps in the freezer with bottled water. Air doesn’t hold any cold, frozen water does. In the event of a power failure the ice water will keep the freezer at temperature longer. And if you need water, well, take it out and let it thaw.

Opening the refrigerator (or freezer) door will shave about 15 minutes off the 24-hours that it will stay cold each time, so do that as infrequently as possible.

Put batteries and flashlights somewhere handy.

If you’re on a well, fill your tub in case the power goes out, that will give you a good amount of water for flushing until the electricity comes back.

Sounds like you’ve done the rest, although may SIL and BIL in Florida would disagree. They have plastic sheeting, plywood panels, medicine kit, standby generator and lots of other “preparations.” Hopefully all you get is rain and maybe a little wind. Good luck.


It’s been reduced to a Cat2 while still in Mexico…



Time for an update for roughly 6 pm local time. Figure I could start with the METAR from John Wayne airport, which isn’t very far from me. (Get planes overhead all the time on a standard arrival pattern from the north.)

Winds are even calmer than before, reading a dead calm at SNA. Barometric pressure is 29.78. Some broken clouds at 9000 and 11,000 feet, with an overcast at 18,000 feet. Temperature is 23 C, dewpoint 16 C.

Latest NHC forecast has the storm making landfall around 8 am Sunday with tropical storm winds some 60 or 70 miles south of Ensenada in Baja California. We should see tropical storm winds in our area a little after 2 pm. Rain for us is forecast to arrive around sunrise on Sunday.

On the personal side, while I could do obsessively more things to prepare, the likelihood of needing much more is vanishingly small. As noted above, some of our earthquake supply of water has made its way back into the freezer. That water comes out from time to time as I need room in the freezer, and it sometimes takes a while to make it’s way back in. Winds are going to be similar to a typical Santa Ana event, and we’ve only lost power during one of those events a couple of times over the almost 30 years we’ve been in this house. So I’m not terribly concerned. I suppose I’ll turn off a couple of computers overnight, as I won’t be using them tomorrow. Not going to do any working from home.

I’ve turned some window fans back on to draw some cooler air into the house. I’m trying not to use the portable AC when I don’t have to. Today felt much cooler than it has been the last few days. The overcast is probably to blame/credit for that. It always feels cooler when you don’t have the direct sunlight on you.

While also literally true, this does feel like the calm before a storm. Picked my son up from work a while ago, and traffic felt a bit busier than usual for a Saturday. While he was working, I finally got around to a quick visit to the grocery store. The parking lot was crammed full - but people weren’t in the grocery store. I suspect they were mainly visiting one of the several popular restaurants in the center. The store shelves weren’t empty - folks just didn’t seem to be irrationally stocking up. Other folks carts seemed to have just an ordinary mix of groceries. I didn’t see any carts overloaded with bottled water or toilet paper.

As to those busy restaurants, my son and I joined that crowd once we were back home. Although not that exact crowd - we went elsewhere to a place we liked and that wasn’t swamped with people.

My best guess is that people around us are remaining fairly calm - hopefully out of education about the probable effects of the storm on us rather than out of ignorance. In short, it was just a normal Saturday.

I do want to make one thing a little more clear. I’m not dismissing this storm as irrelevant. There are a great many people who will see some bad effects from this storm. Most of those, however, are to our south and east. South into Baja California where the worst winds from the storm will be, but even carrying on into most of the southern part of CA where there will be some tropical storm force winds. And we will all see some heavy rain. But the worst of the rain will be to our east, on the eastern slopes of mountains where there will be 6 to more than 10 inches of rain, which is almost certain to cause some devastating flooding. My local area will just get the rain typical of a nasty winter storm. Something around 2 to 4 inches over the 24 hours or so of rain fall.

I’m trying to be a bit of a calm counterpoint to some of the hype I’m seeing in various places. To their credit, the larger news sources seem to be avoiding most of the hype while still getting the word out to the listeners/viewers in the areas at risk to pay attention to this storm.

My only remaining preparation is to put some towels and empty trash cans around in my roof leak area to catch any drips. I’ll do that shortly before bed time, as there’s no significant rain coming until tomorrow morning. Oh - I also want to stick some kind of container out as a makeshift rain gauge. Just to see if I can make that work.

I’ll probably do one more update this evening, just to note the METAR info. I’ll definitely have one some time between 6 am and 9 am local time tomorrow.



But in the Southern Hemisphere, cyclones rotate clockwise.

In the link below, see the sidebar satellite images of a northern hemisphere typhoon, versus a southern hemisphere cyclone.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Here in San Diego county, the current predictions are for around 2 inches of rain, with the wind maxing out sometime Sunday around 20 mph. I think I can deal with that. The top wind speed is down from a few days ago, when they were saying 45 mph. We shall see how well their computer models do.

The San Diego Padres cancelled tomorrow’s baseball game with Arizona, moving it a double-header today, Saturday.

  • Pete

[fake snarky mode on]
Ok. Fine. I was trying to shortcut the explanation by calling it “physics” and leave the details of the explanation to the reader.

What?!? You’re just south of me? I had no idea.

Ditto for the Angels and Dodgers. Had to do a bit of fancy footwork to make sure I got all four of those games recorded so we have something to watch tomorrow while we cower in fear from this terrible storm. :wink:


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To my amazement I am experiencing strikingly strong Hurricane Hilary weather. I knew we would be under Northeastern segment of the Hurricanes cloud pattern, but I expected the huge landmass with mountains between me and the Pacific to cut the strength a lot. It does rain a lot here at this time of year – monsoons – but this is not like our normal summer rain. Looking at the map “we” – the state of Guanajuato – with our 6500 ft altitude and rough terrain, are the biggest brake on Hilary now, and probably squeezing a lot of moisture out. We have winds, but nothing as strong as the ones we are used to from the monsoon thunderstorms.

david fb


Cliff Mass has the goods. Here are the projected rainfall totals by Wednesday:


11 pm update. Let’s start with the METAR. I’ll just cut and paste it.

Wind from 240° at 4 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, Ceiling is Broken at 8,000 feet, Broken Clouds at 12,000 feet, Overcast at 17,000 feet, Temperature 23°C, Dewpoint 17°C, Altimeter is 29.77.

So winds are from the east. Clouds about the same, plus or minus 1000 feet. Temp the same. Dewpoint up a degree, so a bit more moisture in the air. Altimeter (barometric pressure) virtually unchanged.

Forecast still show rain starting around sunrise, then steady rain all day. Temp won’t get much cooler than it is now, so we’ll have the warmest night we’ve had in a while.

Catch buckets and towels in place. Kid is in bed. Cats are nonchalant. Found a couple straight sided containers that will work as impromptu rain gauges. Windows closed. Time for some sleep. I’m not really worried, but more curious about what the day will bring.

One more thing I haven’t mentioned, and please don’t tell his grandparents. The kid is scheduled to work 9pm to 1am Sunday night/Monday morning. They did leave him a message to call in the morning to see if they still need him. I think I’ll encourage him to take the night off if they offer it. I’d rather not be out driving in lots of rain at night with the potential for street flooding. I hope that after he gets a look at the rains this storm can produce, he will agree to the day off.



With the rain throughout the West it should keeps fire danger low(er) for awhile.


A crusty old salt used to complain about digital watches, “How to explain ‘clockwise’ to new sailors?”
:salt: :sailboat:

The Captain


Not sure if I’m late for the AM update or early for the noon one. Either way, here we go - starting with John Wayne Airport METAR for about 10 am

Wind from 330° at 6 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, Few Clouds at 1,000 feet, Scattered Clouds at 6,000 feet, Ceiling is Overcast at 7,500 feet, Temperature 24°C, Dewpoint 22°C, Altimeter is 29.60.

The wind is slowly shifting northward, just what I’d expect as a tropical cyclone passes by to the east in the northern hemisphere. It should go through north and be out of the west to southwest later this evening. Dewpoint is up again, even as the temp is barely changed. Barometer dropping.

Storm has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Will likely remain at that level until shortly after it passes us. We are still within the range that should see tropical storm force winds. The track is roughly the same, with the center still passing some 60 miles to our east.

I wasn’t up to catch the beginning of the rain, but it was raining by 6 am or so when this old man had to take his usual bathroom break. Been a fairly steady rain since then. Checked my impromptu rain gauges just a bit ago, which both showed something in the neighborhood of 1/4" of rain so far. Flood control channel over the back fence is still too low to see the water level. It’s a good 15 feet or so deep, so I can’t seen the bottom from my yard. I expect to see some significant increases in it’s level as the day progresses.

The attempted repairs on the roof leak seem to have been ineffective. A new roof is probably the only way to fix that. So far no noticeable issues. Just a boring, if unusually warm, rain event. I doubt that will continue.

The kid got a call from work to let him know the park will close early today. Since he was scheduled to work the closing, they could change his hours or give him the day off. He chose the day off. Good call - says the guy who would have to drive him to work and then go pick him up.




Thank you so much for the reports! I am following with intense interest.

david fb


Glad you like it. Next one incoming.

Time for another update. METAR from the airport:

Rain and Mist, Wind from 330° at 7 knots, 5 statute miles visibility, Ceiling is Broken at 9,000 feet, Overcast at 11,000 feet, Temperature 24°C, Dewpoint 23°C, Altimeter is 29.55.

They finally mentioned the rain, although I’m sure it’s been raining there all morning. They have the wind direction as unchanged, but I’m noticing it drifting further north at my house - pretty much true north. (This is the point where I should note that these METAR reports use magnetic north while I’m more in tune with true north based on our grid layout of streets. I believe our difference is in the neighborhood of 10 degrees.) Temp unchanged, but dewpoint up a degree. It feels very humid, strangely tropical for being in a desert. :wink:

In the last half hour, I’ve noticed a slight increase in the rain and winds. I’ll check the next METAR, which should be out around the top of the hour. We’re also getting close to the expected arrival time of the tropical storm force winds (34 knots, I think). Barometer is still dropping.

My makeshift rain gauges are showing close to 1/2" of rain for the storm so far. Looking over the back fence, I can now see the water level in the flood control channel. My street is handling the water just fine - the curbs are filling up but there’s no street flooding.

In an act of defiance of Mother Nature, my son and I hopped in the car and picked up lunch at a drive thru. In the drive around, I didn’t notice any street flooding in the local area. Not surprising as the rain hasn’t been very intense yet. Just a steady, slow rain with fairly large drops. When stopped at a traffic light with the wind behind us, the rain didn’t hit the windshield. The wind wasn’t strong at all. But it was just enough wind to move the rain and keep it off the windshield. Traffic was light (except in the drive thru which was as popular as ever) and seemed to be well-behaved.

No real changes around my acreage. Hasn’t been enough wind to cause any damage and the rain is all running off as expected. The low spot in the back yard was getting soggy on my last inspection. I won’t be surprised to see the usually dry Lake Peter reappear in this storm. :grinning:

Back to the flood channel. In either the first or second winter after we bought this house, we had quite a series of winter storms, with the last coming very close to filling that channel. I doubt if we’ll get that full this time. But you never really know.

So we’re still mainly sitting and waiting. And as I sit here, I’m noticing that the rain has dropped off a bit while I’ve been typing. Should have waited until now to go check the rain gauges. Oh well.

I have also spent a few minutes sitting outside under our cheap imitation porch (which isn’t so much a porch as an extended eaves over the front walk way) just relaxing and watching the rain. It’s a bit cooler than sitting in the house, and there’s just something peaceful about listening to the rain fall and the breeze rustle through the trees. If it weren’t for all the problems others are suffering from the worst parts of this storm, I could actually enjoy this weather.



I’d be so happy with 6am - I’m 4am! Interrupts everything.