The Coachella Valley — which was under an unprecedented tropical storm warning until it was lifted around 2 a.m. Monday — is experiencing heavy flooding and other damage after Tropical Storm Hilary churned through the region on Sunday.
- How to get help in desert:Updated resource list for sandbags, other help
- Monday's cleanup begins: Coachella Valley faces massive cleanup; schools, roads closed
- Record rain?Coachella Valley could see year's worth of rain over a few days
- Previous updates: What happened on Friday, Saturday
- Closures: School districts, libraries and more closed Monday due to storm damage, road closures
Several roads continue to be closed due to storm damage and flooding across the Coachella Valley, leaving significant clean-up work to allow residents to travel across the valley again.
“This storm has been unlike anything our community has faced before. We want to thank our residents, businesses, and members of the community for their patience as we work to clean up downed trees and mitigate flooding. Not everything is a quick fix, but our team is doing our best to have Palm Desert up and running tomorrow,” the City of Palm Desert said in a statement on its Facebook page Sunday evening.
Road closures in Palm Desert (as of 10:30 p.m.):
- Washington and Harris
- Gerald Ford in between Cook and Frank Sinatra
- Fred Waring between Cook and Warner Trail
- Parkview Drive
- Mountain View Avenue
Road closures in Indio (as of 10:15 p.m.):
- Shields Road and Avenue 46
- Fargo Street and Indio Blvd.
- Jefferson Street between Ave 48 and Corsica Gate
- John Nobles and Arabia Street
- Jefferson Street and Dunbar Drive
Road closures in Coachella (as of 6 p.m):
- Ave 48 between Van Buren & Grapefruit Blvd
- 6th Street between Vine & Orchard
- Frontage Road between Calle Zamora & Ave 53
- Avenue 52 & Education Way
- Avenue 48 & Cielo Victoria Street
- Avenue 50 at the Whitewater Wash
Road closures in Indian Wells (as of 6 p.m.):
- Fred Waring Drive from Cook Street to California Street
Road closures in Desert Hot Springs (as of 5 p.m.):
- Little Morongo between Pierson and Mission Lakes Blvd.
- Hacienda Ave. and Long Canyon
- Pierson Blvd. between Little Morongo and Golden Eagle Way
- Hacienda between Calle Amapola and Redbud
- Dillon east of Little Morongo
- Two Bunch Palms between Cholla and Cabot Rd.
- Indian Canyon between Mission Lakes and Pierson.
- Pierson at Karen Ave
Road closures in Cathedral City (as of 4 p.m.):
- Varner Road from Date Palm Drive to Mountain View Road
- Ortega Road between Moreno Road and Via de Anza
- Dinah Shore Drive between Cathedral Canyon drive and Date Palm Drive
- Los Gatos Road at Date Palm Drive
No home delivery of Monday Desert Sun print edition
Due to unsafe road conditions throughout the Coachella Valley and beyond, there will be no home delivery of the print edition of The Desert Sun on Monday. A full report of the storm and other news is available at desertsun.com. The e-edition of the newspaper is available for subscribers here.
As of around 10:15 p.m., 911 lines are currently down in the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Indio, according to news releases from all three cities.
If you need emergency assistance, call the following phone numbers:
- Palm Springs: 760-327-1441
- Cathedral City: 760-770-0303
- Indio: 760-775-3730
Indio City Manager Bryan Montgomery has declared a State of Emergency in the city due to the storm. The local state of emergency will last for seven days and is a required step to request state or federal assistance, according to a press release from the city. The State of Emergency will also allow the city to activate its emergency plan.
“Tropical Storm Hilary has threatened local infrastructure and public health and safety, and exceeds the City’s capacity to address the impacts with its own personnel and resources,” the press release stated.
The National Weather Service has extended the flash flood warning for the Coachella Valley area until 11:30 p.m. Sunday for the area’s nine cities and surrounding unincorporated areas such as Mecca and Thousand Palms. The National Weather Service warned of “life-threatening flash flooding” caused by heavy rain.
Interstate 10 is closed due to flooding, according to the California Highway Patrol. The I-10 is closed on both the east and westbound sides between Gene Autry Trail and Bob Hope Drive, with “an unknown ETA to re-open at this time.”
About 60 homes at the Canyon Mobile Home Community in Cathedral City have been impacted by flooding as of Saturday evening, according to Cathedral City Councilmember Nancy Ross, who also lives in the 55 and older community of 350 homes.
“On the (most impacted streets), there was in several locations at least three feet of rushing water that was like a river and had a current of its own, it’s frightening,” Ross said. “And that rushing water by nature just wanted to follow a straight path up into people’s driveways and into their garages, and so many people flooded.”
Ross says damage to the roughly 60 impacted homes includes water flooded into garages or homes, and water under the mobile homes. Ross and her husband spent the afternoon checking on neighbors and attempting to keep nearby culverts clear of debris. The Cathedral City Fire Department also came to the park this afternoon to help evacuate several people out of their homes who couldn’t get past the rushing water in the road.
“It’s a senior citizen mobile home park, many of our people are in their 80s. They just don’t deserve to be in such a vulnerable situation, that’s for sure,” said Ross.
Over 7,000 Imperial Irrigation District customers are currently without power, with storm-related power outages reported across the district’s eastern Coachella Valley and Imperial County service area. Between about 5:30 and 7 p.m., IID reported roughly a dozen separate power outages on its social media accounts, including 1,693 customers in El Centro, 1,107 in the Westmorland/Calipatria area, and 1,190 customers in two different areas of Indio.
The Indio outages are impacting 572 customers in the area from Madison Street to 50th Avenue and 618 customers in the area from Lingayan Avenue to Peach Street. In La Quinta, a power outage is impacting 489 customers from Medallist Drive to Jackson Street, and in Thousand Palms, 370 customers are without power between Manufacturing Road and Watt Street.
The American Red Cross is opening several shelters in response to Hurricane Hilary. The local shelters in Imperial, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties are:
- Desert Mirage High School (86150 66th Ave., Thermal)
- Banning Community Center (789 North San Gorgonio Ave., Banning)
- El Centro Community Center (375 S. 1st St., El Centro)
- Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel (57373 Joshua Lane, Yucca Valley)
- Redlands East Valley High School (31000 E. Colton Ave., Redlands)
The National Weather Service, which previously issued a flash flood warning for the Coachella Valley area until 5 p.m. Sunday, announced a flash flood warning until 8:30 p.m. for the desert's nine cities. The alert, which was sent to iPhone users directly, said to avoid travel "unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order."
Palm Springs firefighters have had to go into floodwaters twice Sunday to rescue people.
In a video of one of the rescues sent by Capt. Nathan Gunkel of the city fire department, a sedan is submerged up to its tires on Ramon Road just east of Gene Autry Trail.
Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage is experiencing flooding at its main facility, but videos online have made it look worse than it really is, an Eisenhower spokesperson told The Desert Sun Sunday evening.
Images and video posted online show flooding outside the John W. Larson Foundation Trauma Center. In one photo, an abandoned golf cart sits submerged in water.
But Lee Rice, the medical center’s public information officer, said that none of it has affected any patient care areas of the hospital.
“Fortunately, it hasn’t had any impact on our patient care areas,” Rice said. “So, it’s business as usual for us.”
Online videos showed the inside of Eisenhower with a small amount of water in the back hallways, with towels on the floor to absorb the moisture.
Rice said that some of the flooding has merely forced Eisenhower to divert ambulances to another section of the hospital that has not experienced the effects of the ongoing rainfall that has come with Tropical Storm Hilary.
Eisenhower is in its slower time of year, which is typical during the summer months, Rice said. She added that it has helped Eisenhower avoid any serious challenges during the storm.
Earlier Sunday, Eisenhower closed urgent care facilities in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta but left Emergency Department services open and available to the community as needed.
At 5 p.m., the National Hurricane Center reported the center of Tropical Storm Hilary was located 25 miles south-southwest of Palm Springs and moving north at 23 mph.
As Hilary moved closer to the Coachella Valley, strong winds have picked up. Palm Desert reported a peak wind gust of 46 mph at 4:20 p.m.
Palm Springs International Airport had a top wind gust of 40 mph at 3:40 p.m.
All schools will be closed Monday in two of the Coachella Valley's three districts, Desert Sands Unified and Palm Springs Unified.
In Coachella Valley Unified School District, the first day of the school year will be Thursday.
Xavier College Preparatory High School also said it will be closed Monday, although staff will try to come to campus to assess any damage caused by the storm. The school said it is anticipating some minor damage caused by flooding and leaks.
College of the Desert will also be closed on Monday, although classes for the new semester are not set to begin until next week. College of the Desert "currently has a lot of water and debris on site," and the Palm Desert campus has also "experienced some water intrusion in key areas."
School officials are asking everyone to remain off campus, and "no business will be conducted at any location, with the exception of COD’s Maintenance Team and Campus Safety Team, who will help assess the damage and determine any challenges to student or work spaces." Regular business is expected to resume on Tuesday.
—Paul Albani-Burgio and Erin Rode
Desert Mirage High School in Thermal is being used as a temporary storm shelter, according to the Coachella Valley Unified School District.
The shelter is open to the public and includes a dedicated reception area and a cooling zone. The district said it expects the shelter to be open until Monday or Tuesday afternoon, with more information to be sent out as the storm continues.
Palm Springs City Manager Scott Stiles has declared a local emergency because of the storm, city spokesperson Amy Blaisdell said.
She said the declaration opens up access to extra resources, such as funds for repairs from storm damage and more flexibility with emergency purchases.
City law gives the manager the authority to proclaim a local emergency, but it must be ratified by the city council within seven days or it becomes invalid.
More roads are closing across the Coachella Valley as police advise residents not to drive. Closures were being announced frequently; below is only a partial list:
Palm Springs: Police announced the closure of two more roads in Palm Springs. Farrell Drive was closed between Ramon Road and Mesquite Road.
El Cielo Road was also closed at Mesquite Avenue, while the Dinah Shore Bridge is closed from Palm Springs to Cathedral City. Golf Club Drive is also closed at the Whitewater Wash.
Indian Canyon Drive, Gene Autry Trail and Vista Chino were already closed at the washes.
Cathedral City: Cathedral Canyon Drive and Dinah Shore Drive were also closed by Cathedral City Police. Los Gatos Road at Date Palm Drive was already closed.
East valley: 66th Street was closed between Van Buren Street and Jackson Street. Box Canyon Road from Interstate 10 to the All American Canal was closed in the Mecca area.
Even in areas where roads weren't fully closed, conditions were treacherous. Just after 4 p.m., two of the three eastbound lanes of Highway 111 were closed due to rocks in the road at the Cathedral City-Rancho Mirage border.
Palm Springs Police Lt. Gustavo Araiza advised residents to avoid travel in the city unless absolutely necessary and to drive with extreme caution if they must.
“We don’t need collisions tying up resources,” he said.
— Paul Albani-Burgio, Jay Calderon
California Gov. Gavin Newsom stopped in Palm Springs on Sunday as Tropical Storm Hilary wrecked havoc on the Coachella Valley. He met with Palm Springs city councilmembers and staff in the city’s emergency operations center.
Newsom issued a State of Emergency for much of Southern California on Saturday to support the Hilary response and recovery efforts as the state continues mobilizing and coordinating resources ahead of the storm's forecasted impacts.
The city posted photos of the visit on its Facebook page Sunday, explaining that city staff updated the governor on the city’s storm preparations while Newsom offered “whatever assistance he could provide to the city.” The post noted that Newsom had been “instrumental in bringing Oakland Urban Search and Rescue and Swift Water California OES Task Force teams to Palm Springs," where they were going to be used to assist with rescues during the storm.
They also discussed the city's request for an elevated bridge on North Indian Canyon Drive over the Whitewater Wash. The Coachella Valley Association of Governments has been trying to secure funding for such a bridge, which would reduce the need for rain and wind-related closures.
Photos show Newsom adding his name to the Emergency Operations Center sign-in sheet during his visit. Palm Springs Mayor Grace Garner, City Councilmember Lisa Middleton, City Manager Scott Stiles, Police Chief Andrew Mills and Fire Chief Paul Alvarado are pictured meeting with Newsom during the visit.
— Paul Albani-Burgio
Heavy rain has moved through the Coachella Valley and brought soaking rains that have flooded many streets and intersections. Here are the latest rain totals from the National Weather Service as of 2 p.m., with rain still falling.
- Palm Desert 1.18 inches
- Cathedral Canyon 1 inch
- Thermal airport 0.91 inches
- Palm Springs Airport 0.89 inches
- Lower Tahquitz Creek 0.86 inches
The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued Flash Flood Warnings for most of the Coachella Valley until 5 p.m. Sunday.
Some locations that will experience flash flooding include Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, Indio, Coachella, Thermal, La Quinta, Mecca and the Santa Rosa Mountain.
At 1:51 p.m., doppler radar and automated rain gauges indicated heavy rain falling across the warned area. The expected rainfall rate is 0.5 to 1 inch in 1 hour. Hourly rainfall rates in Palm Desert have exceeded 0.75 inches per hour. Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly.
At 1:40 p.m., doppler radar indicated heavy rain across the warned area. Rainfall rates of three-quarters of an inch per hour are occurring.
Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly. The weather service warns life threatening flash flooding is possible from heavy rain, particularly of creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses.
Motorists should turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.
— Matt Solinsky
The Coachella Valley remains under a tropical storm warning on Sunday morning, and a flood watch is in effect until 5 p.m. on Monday. Light rain is falling at Palm Springs International — as of 8 a.m., 0.32 inches had fallen since midnight — and the temperature is a cool 78 degrees with 88% humidity and 6-mph winds out of the southwest, according to the National Weather Service.
But more rain, and heavier wind, is on the way. Thunderstorms are in the forecast throughout the day, with an additional two to four inches of rain expected in the valley, along with wind gusts of up to 40 to 50 mph. Temps are expected to top out at 86 degrees.
NWS Meteorologist Adam Roser said the biggest threat in the Coachella Valley is "definitely flash flooding."
"Many of the mountain roads going into the valley are very vulnerable," he said. "As are any of those that go over those washes and things like that.'
Roser said most of the rain will fall in heavy bands that could potentially produce 2 inches of rain an hour in the afternoon. There also remains a small chance of tornadoes in the valley, he said.
"WIth tropical storm systems, any tornadoes are usually weak and brief, but the storm prediction center does have around a 5% chance of a tornado occurring in the area," he said.
The rain and wind will likely be finished by the time most people are waking up on Monday morning, Roser said.
— Kate Franco, Paul Albani-Burgio
So far, Tropical Storm Hilary has brought a light but steady rainfall to the Coachella Valley, but weather forecasts advise the rain should become heavier on Sunday afternoon and evening.
As of noon, official National Weather Service rain totals included 0.40 at Palm Springs International Airport, 0.46 in Thermal at the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport, 0.46 in Thousand Palms and 0.36 in Palm Desert.
The now-downgraded Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall along Mexico's Baja California coast Sunday as concerns mounted over the storm causing what could be deadly flash flooding in the border city of Tijuana, Southern California and places as far north as Idaho that rarely get such heavy rain.
Hilary hit the coast in a sparsely populated area about 150 miles south of Ensenada.
The storm has already caused flooding in places across Mexico’s arid peninsula and threatens to unleash torrential rains on mudslide-prone Tijuana, where many improvised houses cling to steep hillsides just south of the U.S. border.
Forecasters warned the storm could cause extreme flooding, mudslides and even tornadoes. Parts of the U.S. Southwest could be hit with once-in-a-century rains and there is a good chance Hilary could break all-time records as the wettest known tropical cyclone to douse Nevada, Oregon and Idaho.
As of 11 a.m. Pacific time, Hilary was located about 215 miles south-southeast of San Diego, the National Hurricane Center reported. Hilary had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was moving northwest at 25 mph.
The Mexican cities of Ensenada and Tijuana, directly in the storm’s path, closed all beaches and opened a half-dozen shelters at sports complexes and government offices.
—The Associated Press
Riverside County has issued an evacuation order north of Banning and near the Morongo Reservation as the worst of Tropical Storm Hilary's impacts approach.
The county's emergency management department announced the order late Sunday morning for the Mias zone in the Apple/ElDorado burn scar.
—City News Service
Organizers of Splash House said the Palm Springs pool party and music festival will go on Sunday despite Tropical Storm Hilary's expected inundation of the Coachella Valley and the rest of Southern California.
Earlier in the weekend, the festival had been moved inside at the three hotels where it's held, which are miles apart.
"We're gonna keep it real with you — we're not big fans of today's projected weather," organizers wrote in an Instagram post about 10 a.m. Sunday. "But we are big fans of keeping this party going safely. Let's take things inside and close out this weekend in unprecedented style!"
Events will be at the Renaissance, Margaritaville Resort and Saguaro Palm Springs hotels between about 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to an online schedule.
"Shuttles with run as planned between hotels," the Instagram post said, without addressing the possible heavy rain — predicted to be as much as two inches an hour at times Sunday afternoon.
Local and national officials, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have advised people to stay indoors and off the roads during the storm.
Later, organizers seemingly acknowledged the storm could make it hard for festival attendees from out of town to drive or fly out as scheduled. They posted a list of hotels that were offering late checkout and discounted rates for extending stays.
Ahead of the anticipated impacts from now Tropical Storm Hilary, a majority of airlines have canceled flights in and out of Palm Springs International Airport on Sunday.
As of 9 a.m., only five of 15 flight arrivals through 6 p.m were still scheduled. United, American and WestJet all canceled flights into the airport. Southwest Airlines canceled its entire Sunday schedule at the airport a day earlier.
Delta’s flight from Salt Lake City to Palm Springs that arrives at 12:18 p.m. Sunday was one of the few still scheduled.
Eight of 10 evening flight arrivals into Palm Springs were still scheduled, as were several evening departures, but airport officials cautioned anyone flying to check ahead with their airline before arriving at the airport.
The National Weather Center in Miami said in the most recent advisory at 2 a.m. that Hurricane Hilary was about 30 miles south of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, and 385 miles from San Diego, California. The maximum sustained wind speed remained unchanged at 85 mph while spreading “heavy rains” northward over the peninsula.
Meteorologists warned that despite weakening, the storm remained treacherous. Forecasters said the storm was still expected to enter the history books as thefirst tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, bringing flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, high winds and power outages.
Elizabeth Adams, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service San Diego office, said rain could fall up to 3 inches an hour across the desert and mountains surrounding the Coachella Valley and beyond from late Sunday morning into the afternoon. The intense rainfall during those hours could cause widespread and life-threatening flash floods.
One person drowned Saturday in the Mexican town of Santa Rosalia, on the peninsula’s eastern coast, when a vehicle was swept away in an overflowing stream. Rescue workers managed to save four other people, said Edith Aguilar Villavicencio, the mayor of Mulege township.
It was not immediately clear whether officials considered the fatality related to the hurricane, but video posted by local officials showed torrents of water coursing through the town’s streets.
The forecast prompted authorities to issue an evacuation advisory for Santa Catalina Island, urging residents and beachgoers to leave the tourist destination 23 miles off the coast.
— The Associated Press
As of 7 a.m. Sunday, rainfall totals since midnight were 0.32 inches at Palm Springs International Airport, 0.41 inches at the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal and 0.29 inches in Thousand Palms, according to the National Weather Service.
— Matt Solinsky
Preliminary precipitation data from the National Weather Service's San Diego station shows 24-hour rain totals as of 5 a.m. Sunday in the Coachella Valley vary from 0.86 inches in Thermal to 0.04 inches in Indio Hills. Palm Springs International Airport reported 0.18 inches of rain so far.
- Thermal: 0.86 inches
- Morongo Valley: 0.39 inches
- Desert Hot Springs: 0.31 inches
- Palm Springs International Airport: 0.18 inches
- Palm Desert: 0.16 inches
- Indio Hills: 0.04 inches
— Kate Franco
Road closures in Palm Springs, Cathedral City
Palm Springs: Indian Canyon Drive, Gene Autry Trail and Vista Chino will be closed at the washes until further notice in preparation of potential flooding due to Hurricane Hilary, the Palm Springs Police Department announced late Saturday.
Cathedral City: Los Gatos Road at Date Palm Drive has been closed, city officials said Saturday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declares State of Emergency
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a State of Emergency for much of Southern California Saturday to support the Hurricane Hilary response and recovery efforts as the state continues mobilizing and coordinating resources ahead of the storm's forecasted impacts.
Heavy rainfall and high winds were expected to last through Monday. At the governor's direction, there were currently more than 7,500 boots on the ground deployed to help local communities protect Californians from the impacts of Hilary.
The governor also signed an emergency proclamation in San Diego while visiting with California National Guard troops. He met with first responders and local officials, including San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. He was also in touch with federal officials, including the White House.
The Emergency Medical Services Authority has assets on standby, including California Medical Assistance Teams to augment local capacity, aid in evacuations and support medical needs in communities impacted by flooding. The EMSA was ready to assist with Ambulance Strike Teams as necessary to support local communities. The Flood Operations Center is activated and has prepositioned flood-fight materials should they be needed.
—City News Service
Sandbag availability low, exhausted in some valley cities
Sand and sandbags are no longer available at local fire stations in Palm Desert as of Saturday afternoon. Instead, residents can find these resources at the Palm Desert Civic Center, 43-900 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert.
Rancho Mirage ran out of sand at its distribution site at the Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory parking lot, so many people took their empty bags to a nearby empty lot to fill them with sand straight from the ground. Empty sandbags are still available for Rancho Mirage residents at Fire Station 69 at 71-751 Gerald Ford Drive. Proof of Rancho Mirage address is required.
Indian Wells announced mid-afternoon on Saturday that sandbags are no longer available from that city, and residents are encouraged to seek supplies from local home improvement stores, instead.
Hurricane Hilary: How experts say you should prepare
Two Palm Springs emergency officials have some advice for valley residents on how they can prepare their homes and themselves for the storm. The officials are Capt. Nathan Gunkel of the city fire department and Daniel DeSelms, Palm Springs’ emergency management coordinator.
To protect yourself:
They said residents should make sure they have enough food and water to make it through a few days, including food that can be eaten if the power goes out.
They also recommended preparing for the power outages by charging their cellphones and making sure they have flashlights and batteries on hand. DeSelms said he generally recommends using flashlights rather than candles because of the fire risks that come with candles.
In general, they said residents should be prepared to remain at home for multiple days as it will likely be unsafe to go out during the storm and roads could potentially remained closed or impassable even after it passes.
Gunkel recommended that residents make sure they know how to get out of their neighborhoods in the event the city does need to evacuate, keeping in mind that roads like Indian Canyon Drive and Gene Autry Road will likely be impassable. However, he said people should remember it is impossible to anticipate which other roads may be closed.
To protect your home:
Both DeSelms and Gunkel recommend residents make use of the free sandbags Palm Springs and other cities and agencies are providing, particularly if their homes have ever experienced flooding in the past. It often makes sense to place sand bags in front of the front door or other places where water might pool, Gunkel said.
DeSelms also said those with leaky roofs can put a tarp over them. However, he cautioned that it is important to try to make sure the tarp will be secured enough to withstand the strong expected winds.
— Paul Albani-Burgio