With Hurricane Hillary coming toward Baja and Southern California, there is a difference between overreacting and preparation. Have you started thinking about how to prepare?

As someone who carefully watched weather (especially during hurricane season) in Baja California on our cruising sailboat, I’m especially attuned to preparing for potential storms.  We never rode out a hurricane while we were cruising, but we did hide from multiple tropical storms while in Baja California.  Now, there’s a large hurricane (probably a tropical storm by the time is hits land) coming toward Baja and Southern California.  And it’s large….reaching a Category 4 this morning when I looked at a favorite weather site, eebmike.   eebmike is a great site because it throws easy to read graphics from the National Weather Service up like twice a day, really giving you the Baja/Mexico/west coast weather you need to see in a glance.  Except this time, you can’t ignore the huge hurricane just off the west coast of Baja.  This storm should shrink again as it hits colder water coming north, but where it makes landfall makes a difference.

Will this thing make landfall in the less populated areas of the coast of Baja, will it hit closer to Ensenada or will it bobble left and possibly come further north toward San Diego/LA?  The weather predictions I’ve seen this morning say that Hurricane Hillary will not hit the US as a hurricane.  It will lose power to either hitting land in Baja or the cold waters off Southern California and downgrade to a tropical storm.  But the weather gurus are ranting about how the Southern California area could be hit with the first tropical storm in over 60 years.  

Here’s potential storm tracks for Hurricane Hillary as of morning, Aug 18th. One little bobble left and the coast of Southern California takes a direct hit from a major storm.

Southern California, are you thinking about this weather? 

Some folks think that preparing for an event is called exaggeration or overreaction but I’m a Boy Scout,  so “Be Prepared” works for me.  Even talking about the storm and starting to prep for it might be called fear-mongering.  If we were in Florida or the south and a hurricane loomed, folks would calmly prepare.  What about you…are you thinking through the weather or do you think it will just pass by?  I’m hoping for the best…that it rains and we get some wind but no damage and then I can go about my business next week.  

But if there’s worse weather, how could one do some easy preps for this particular storm coming in?  There will probably be rain and wind.  There might be potential flooding, downed power lines, downed trees ect.  This means you might lose power in your house, you might lose cell contact, you might lose TV and you might see flooding or flooded areas of town.

Here’s some easy tips that might be helpful:

-Get the cooler out of the garage and grab some bags of ice in case you lose power and need to keep some food, medicine or baby food cold.

-Find the best couple flashlights in the house and make sure they have the right batteries and they work.  Consider candles.

-Consider making some less-perishable food that you can have in the fridge pre-made in case you lose power, propane or gas during the storm.  Make sure the food is high value/high calories (get the kids to eat it) and won’t spoil if it’s not cold for a bit.   In our house this might be veggies, fruit, Mac n Cheese or less popular…rice.

-Dig out backpacks or easily carried bags and consider what valuables you might stash in those bags if there was a bad flooding situation.  Where would you go….like the roof? Can you get there, can you get those bags up there, can you get all the pets up there.

-Speaking of pets, consider throwing some pet food into large ziplocks ahead of time and getting that food into those backpacks or bags I talked about earlier.

-Organize all of this so in the middle of the night if there’s flood conditions, you can grab it all, have some light (flashlights) and be able to get to safety quickly.

-Find all the rain jackets ahead of time and have them on standby.

-A portable lithium battery like a Goal Zero by Yeti is a good choice to keep light electronics like phone and computers charged.  You’ve got to get a really big one to keep something like a fridge running.  Consider a solar panel to charge it.  A local outdoor store or REI has these for sale as does Amazon.  

-Have some extra fresh water around in case the city water lines stop pumping water.

Don’t do these simple human tricks in a big potential floody storm:

-Don’t try to bull the car through flooded low spot because you have 4×4.  If you’ve never practiced (in your 4×4) in high water or swift water you might die. 

-Don’t go near downed cell phone or power lines.  Likely you won’t know those lines are still powered before you get electrocuted and die.

-Don’t go near bodies of water (even puddles) that have downed electrical lines near them.  The water could electrocute you and you might die.

-If things flood, there’s usually more than just water.  There are branches, debris, dirt, sand ect.  Do the simple thing and get to high ground, even if it’s the roof.  Pride might be injured because you and the family are sitting on the roof, but it might also keep you from being swept away by the muddy, moving debris field coming through the house.

Sadly, some of this info comes to you from experience.  We’ve had to help clean up houses after major flooding and major fires and it’s heartbreaking.  I’m hoping that this storm simply dissolves over land and goes away with a whimper.  But as of right now, it’s a big one headed our way.

Hurricane Hillary track from the US National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center as of 9am mountain time, Aug 18th.

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