Hilary Hits California, Impacting Travel, Cruises

Source: Twitter National Hurricane Center @NWSNHC

Widespread disruption to travel has resulted as Southern California has been hit by its first tropical storm in 84 years. Over the weekend, communities saw unprecedented floods, mudslides, high winds, and power outages.  The Associated Press reports that Hilary has dumped over 6 inches of rain in some mountain communities, potentially bringing more rain than the average year in inland desert areas.

Although the storm has since been downgraded, in its wake, Tropical Storm Hilary brought a barrage of flash flood warnings spanning several counties. On Sunday, 20AUG, emergency alerts warned residents in the Los Angeles area not to attempt to travel unless they were fleeing an area subject to flooding.

In an unrelated event on the same day, a magnitude-5.1 earthquake rattled parts of Southern California, as reported by the Washington Post. However, the National Weather Service has dismissed tsunami concerns.

Air Travel Impact

Early disruptions saw extensive flight cancellations, with many flight cancellations and delays throughout the U.S.. According to FlightAware thousands of flights have been cancelled or delayed through Monday, 21AUG, with airlines have offering waivers.

Southwest, with among the largest airline operations in California, bore the brunt, cancelling over 700 flights on Sunday and nearly 190 on Monday, 21AUG. 

In a statement to USA TODAY, the airline noted, "As California's largest carrier, we've made proactive adjustments to our flight schedule throughout the weekend and have communicated with affected customers, sharing details of our travel advisory that allows additional flexibility to self-serve rebooking on Southwest.com.

"We will continue to share updates as the storm progresses, and we stand ready to assist and accommodate them during and following the storm."

Source: Youtube.

Cruise Travel Impact

Cruise Radio reports that three major cruise lines - Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises - modified their itineraries due to the storm.

The Carnival Panorama, departing from Long Beach, cancelled its stop at Mazatlan, Mexico, offering refunds for pre-booked shore excursions. Meanwhile, the Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas docked in Ensenada on the evening of 19AUG, with all corresponding shore excursions cancelled and refunded. Emerald Princess, adjusting to the storm's forecast, is making a service-only stop in Ensenada before heading directly to Los Angeles, arriving a day early.

Passengers are urged to monitor updates from their cruise lines about current and future itineraries.

Aftermath Expected to Reveal Significant Damage

As the storm weakens into a post-tropical cyclone, the extent of its impact will be evaluated beginning Monday morning local time, however,  widespread damage is expected to be reported.

Both Arizona and Nevada are gearing up for heavy rainfall and potential flooding as the storm tracks inland, with communities, travellers, and authorities on high alert, and advised to check on news, airline and other sources of information about safe travel in and out of the region.

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