Weather experts disagree on how much Hurricane Hilary will impact Phoenix area

Aug 18, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:18 am

This National Weather Service graphic shows the Hurricane Hilary rainfall forecast through Wednesda...

This graphic shows the Hurricane Hilary rainfall forecast through Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, for parts of Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. (National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

PHOENIX — The unusually powerful Pacific storm moving north Friday off Mexico’s coast will probably bring rain to metro Phoenix this weekend, but opinions are mixed on how hard it will hit the Valley.

The latest seven-day forecast includes the chance of monsoon activity daily in the Phoenix area. The probability of rain spikes as the remnant of Hurricane Hilary passes to the west, peaking at 70% Sunday night.

However, Isaac Smith, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, said the Valley will remain on the eastern edge of the impact.

“Overall rainfall amounts aren’t expected to be all that impressive across the Phoenix area,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday morning.

“But if you look further west, that’s where you’ll see the greatest rainfall impacts. So we do have flood watches in effect west of Phoenix across southwest Arizona, extending out into California.”

How much rain will Phoenix get from Hurricane Hilary?

While the National Weather Service is expecting the Valley to get between a quarter-inch and half-inch of rain from the Pacific storm, local climate expert Randy Cerveny thinks it could be twice that much.

“It might be wishful thinking, but as I look at the weather maps, I’m tending to go a little bit more than that. I want to go a half an inch to an inch,” Cerveny, a professor of geographical sciences at Arizona State University, told KTAR News on Friday.

Cerveny noted that hurricanes rotate counterclockwise, which could widen the range of Hilary’s impact as the storm moves north.

“A lot of its moisture is actually being pushed to the northeast. That’s why I’m thinking that actually Arizona might get a little more rain than what has been forecast,” he said.

“It’s all not just going to follow the straight path of the hurricane. A lot of it is going to be pushed off towards the northeast and that’s us, that’s Arizona.”

Phoenix monsoon could use a boost

Depending on how Hilary behaves, the Valley could see its first sustained storms of the monsoon season this weekend.

So far, the region has received only occasional scattered showers.

Phoenix proper didn’t get its first official monsoon rainfall until Thursday night, when .02 inches was measured at Sky Harbor International Airport. The National Weather Service uses an airport weather station for the city’s official readings.

Status of Hurricane Hilary as of Friday morning

Hurricane Hilary grew to Category 4 strength Friday morning, with sustained winds near 145 mph.

The Mexican government said a weakened Hilary might skim a sparsely populated area on the western edge of the Baja peninsula early Sunday, and then perhaps hit a more heavily populated area of the coast Sunday night between the cities of Playas de Rosarito and Ensenada, in Baja California state.

Hilary could still be at tropical storm strength (sustained winds of 39-73 mph) when it reaches the United States. Southern California hasn’t been hit by a tropical storm since Sept. 25, 1939, according to the National Weather Service.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm watch for Southern California for the first time ever.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

80° | 54°
60° and mostly clear

Arizona News

Person planting a 5 foot tree...

Some residents in Mesa qualify for a free shade tree

Qualifying Mesa residents can now enroll in the city's tree shade program, which offers eligible participants the opportunity to plant a tree in their yard at no cost.

8 hours ago

Teen girl accused of attacking, robbing victim, Gilbert police say...

Gilbert PD arrest teen girl accused of attacking victim in youth violence case

The Gilbert Police Department said on Tuesday it arrested a teen girl accused of attacking and robbing a victim in September 2023.

9 hours ago

Southbound I-17 was closed for a fatal crash on Feb. 20, 2024. (ADOT Photo)...

Southbound I-17 reopens just north of metro Phoenix after fatal crash

The southbound I-17 reopened at around 6 p.m. after a fatal crash caused a shutdown, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

12 hours ago

Bob Sanders will officially become the Buckeye police chief on March 3, 2024. (Buckeye Photo)...

Buckeye appoints new police chief to lead West Valley city

Buckeye announced Tuesday it had promoted Bob Sanders to police chief after serving a decade as deputy police chief in the West Valley city.

13 hours ago

Saiya, at First Avenue and McKinley Street in the Roosevelt Row area, had its last beam placed on t...

Downtown Phoenix apartment tower Saiya reaches construction milestone

A downtown Phoenix high-rise apartment tower that has been under construction for nearly two years recently reached a milestone ahead of its anticipated summer opening.

14 hours ago

Peso pluma singing on Mesa's Sloan Park stage in 2023....

Mexican singer Peso Pluma to stop in Phoenix on ‘Exodo’ tour this fall

Mexican singer Peso Pluma announced a stop in Phoenix on his upcoming tour, officials said.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Weather experts disagree on how much Hurricane Hilary will impact Phoenix area