Tropical Strom Kay Brings Flooding and Wind to Southern California

Flooding and high winds are expected in parts of Southern California on Friday as Tropical Storm Kay passes offshore.

According to the National Hurricane Center, as of 11 a.m. PT, the storm’s center was about 140 miles south of San Diego and still primarily struck Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Kay made landfall in Mexico Thursday afternoon, making landfall near central Baja California with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, as well as heavy rain and a powerful storm surge.

Kay’s maximum sustained wind now hovers around 45 mph, and it’s traveling northwest at 13 mph. A westbound turn is expected on Saturday, which will take it further inland.

Winds and moisture from the storm are moving to parts of Southern California and southwestern Arizona. The heaviest rain is expected to fall east of San Diego, in desert areas. Rainfall of 2 to 4 inches is likely Friday evening through Saturday morning, although some remote areas can reach up to 20 inches.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for parts of Imperial County, California until 3:30 p.m. PT. The New River, which flows through the province and across the US-Mexico border, is expected to overflow. Flood watches continue until tomorrow for 8 million people in Southern California, Western Arizona and Southern Nevada.

A high wind warning is in effect until midnight in San Diego County and parts of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Parts of those regions can see wind gusts up to 65 mph.

Tropical cyclones that hit Southern California are very rare. The most recent was Hurricane Nora in 1997, which caused power outages in LA and flooding in San Diego after it passed over southeastern California like a tropical storm.

In Mexico, meanwhile, ongoing coastal flooding, flash flooding and landslides are possible in Baja California and parts of mainland northwest Mexico through Saturday morning. In total, by the time the storm passes, the peninsula could see up to 10 inches of rain, with isolated areas up to 6 inches (15 cm).

Tropical storm warnings are still in effect along both coasts of the Baja Peninsula. On the western side, the warning zone extends from Punta Eugenia in the north to the US-Mexico border. In the Gulf of California, the warning hits the coast between Bahia de Los Angeles on the peninsula and Puerto Libertad on mainland Mexico.

Liza Torres, Marlene Lenthang, Kathryn Procivi and Steve Strouss contributed.