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Tropical Storm Hilary hits Southern California, bringing torrential downpour

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Tropical Storm Hilary has arrived in Southern California pushing torrential rains on a northward path and causing flooding throughout the area.

The system has prompted the first-ever Tropical Storm Watch warning for Southern California

The National Weather Service says tropical storm conditions and heavy rains were already impacting parts of the region. The NWS noted that the only time a tropical storm made landfall in California in the 20th Century was in September 1939.

Hurricane Hilary: What can Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire expect from the storm?

Hilary has thrice been downgraded on Saturday, quickly weakening from Category 4 to Category 1 by the evening. Still, the storm is expected to reach Southern California earlier than previously expected. 

The hurricane will continue to weaken as it moves north, and is predicted to shift into a tropical storm over much of Southern California early Sunday and will still pack a punch, with heavy rain likely to prompt flash flooding in some mountain and foothill areas, along with powerful winds Sunday into Monday. Forecasters said there is a chance of a "wet Santa Ana pattern" of offshore winds as the storm pushes through. Initial forecasts show some areas possibly seeing gusts of up to 60 mph.

Coastal areas will also be dealing with high surf that could create some flooding concerns in beach communities. Forecasters said surf of 4 to 7 feet is possible at southeast- and south-facing beaches, along with strong rip currents, with Catalina Island "most vulnerable" to the strong swells. 

Governor Newsom declares state of emergency as Hurricane Hilary closes in on SoCal 00:22

Conditions are expected to improve by Tuesday and beyond, but "enough moisture will remain to possibly continue afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms across the interior portion of the area, especially the mountains and desert," according to the NWS. 

For live updates on Tropical Storm Hilary click here.

Category 1 hurricanes traditionally have winds reaching gusts between 74 and 95 miles per hour. 

The National Hurricane Center of the Eastern Pacific posted an update on social media late Saturday, advising residents to prep for flooding impacts as soon as possible due to a "potentially historic amount of rainfall" and "catastrophic flooding impacts," which are expected to begin Sunday and last through Monday. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Karen Bass issued emergency orders for their respective constituents as the tropical storm could bring catastrophic flooding. Hilary's impending impact has prompted authorities to issue a Flash Flood Warning for most of L.A. County. It remains unclear whether LAUSD classes will resume Monday. According to Bass, the district will make an assessment later Sunday. 

About 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected over most areas, with localized amounts reaching as high as 6 inches.

"There is a high risk of flash flooding in areas like Big Bear, Palm Springs, the Riverside County mountains and, of course, the LA Basin, and into parts of Orange County," said forecaster, Alex Biston. 

A flood watch will be in effect from late Saturday night through Monday evening for Orange County coastal and inland areas, along with the Santa Ana mountains and foothills.

Paul Deanno breaks down everything you need to know about Hilary's impact on LA, OC, IE and Riverside

The advancing storm also caused multiple theme parks to close, including Six Flags Magic Mountain, Hurricane Harbor and Knott's Berry Farm. Disneyland in Anaheim remains open but with abbreviated hours. California Adventure Park will close at 9 a.m., the main park at 10 p.m., and Downtown Disney will close at 11 p.m. Pacific Park on the pier is also closed. 

Officials have issued evacuation orders and warnings for much of Southern California, including Catalina Island.

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