The Eastern Pacific hurricane season has had eight named storms, with most heading west toward Hawaii. Last month, Hurricane Calvin threatened the islands and many boats that had just arrived after the Transpac and the Singlehanded Transpacific Race, but it left without causing much damage. This was immediately followed by Hurricane Dora, whose winds helped create the inferno that engulfed Lahaina last week. Now the hurricane course has shifted with the onset of Hurricane Hilary on the Baja coast.
The tropical storm became a hurricane yesterday morning, with its track shown to head north up the west coast of the Baja peninsula and eventually reach Southern California. “Eventually” is not that far away. The eye of the storm is predicted to pass offshore of the Baja Ha-Ha stops of Bahia Santa Maria and Turtle Bay on Saturday, and to reach Southern California on Sunday afternoon/evening.
Hilary has already been forecast to accelerate to a Category 4 by Saturday morning as it passes west of Baja’s west coast, leaving the southwest-facing anchorages vulnerable. It could cause significant damage depending on where it makes landfall, which, on its present course, could be somewhere near Ensenada. The projected course will also bring it very close to Turtle Bay. Winds are expected to diminish as it reaches cooler water and starts to hit land, perhaps coming ashore as a Category 1 or tropical storm.
This is one to watch for Baja and Southern California, where it could produce big winds, heavy rain, big surf and flooding. BoatUS is advising boats in Southern California marinas to batten down the hatches by adding docklines and fenders, and reducing windage by removing roller-furling headsails or anything that adds wind resistance. Boats should also secure portholes and hatches, and ensure scuppers and drains are clear so heavy rains can exit the boat.