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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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North San Diego County cities urge vigilance, offer sandbags as Hilary approaches

Tropical storm warning in effect; sandbags running out at some sites
Hurricane Hilary, which formed off the coast of Mexico (pictured in an Aug. 17 satellite image), is predicted to bring potentially heavy rains and high winds as a tropical storm to San Diego County and Southern California on Sunday through Monday. (NOAA National Hurricane Center photo)

Agencies throughout San Diego County are advising caution and preparation as the region falls under California’s first-ever official tropical storm warning.

Some North County cities are already reporting that they are out of sandbags, although they are generally being offered in limited amounts to residents ahead of expected deluges over the weekend.

Forecasters expect the region to experience the heaviest rainfall and winds Sunday into Monday. Hilary could produce 2 to 3 inches of rain in the coastal areas, and 2 to 4 inches across the inland valleys. The mountains and deserts could see 4 to 10 inches, or even as much of a foot of rain in some areas. Winds along the coast could reach 40 mph, 50 mph farther inland, and perhaps higher in the mountains and deserts.

Surf will reach 7 feet or more along coastal North County, in addition to strong longshore currents and rip currents, according to forecasters. However, the National Weather Service did not expect a significant storm surge, if any, for the coast.

The watch has been issued by the National Weather Service as Hurricane Hilary works its way up the coast from southern Mexico. If it hits Southern California as a tropical storm, it will be the first time such a storm has come across Southern California since 1939. The National Hurricane Center warned of “potentially catastrophic” flooding in San Diego and elsewhere in Southern California.

A storm of similar significance — in the form of the remnants of Hurricane Norman — brought heavy rain, wind and flooding to San Diego County in early September 1978. In early September 2022, Hurricane Kay caused rain and wind in San Diego County as a post-tropical cyclone that remained off the coast as it dissipated.

As of Friday afternoon, Aug. 18, Hurricane Hilary was located several hundred miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and moving northwest, according to forecasters.

Although the storm strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph over the past couple of days, forecasters expect it to reduce in strength to a tropical storm as it hits colder water to the north.

In an advisory as of 2:33 p.m. Friday, the Weather Service warned of these possible impacts over the weekend:

Potentially “life-threatening rainfall flooding having possible devastating impacts across Southern California.”

“Dangerous wind having possible significant impacts across Southern California.”

The possibility of tornadoes.

North County cities are offering limited numbers of sandbags for residents who have flooding concerns, according to updates on Thursday and Friday.


The Encinitas Public Works Department offers city residents up to 10 self-loaded sandbags, while supplies last, at 160 Calle Magdalena. The sandbags are available 24 hours a day for residents only, not contractors. On social media by late Friday afternoon, city officials announced that only bags were available after sand ran out.


Although Carlsbad also offers sandbags to residents, the city reports that it is currently out of supply. City officials recommend purchasing sandbags at local home improvement stores or through the county, which has them available in Fallbrook at the Pala Mesa Fire Station.


The city of Oceanside also reports that it is out of sandbags.

“Moody’s El Corazon Recycling has given out over 1,200 sandbags, and is now out as of this afternoon,” Oceanside officials stated in an online update Friday. “However, they do have plenty of sand. If you are prone to flooding at your property, check with Lowe’s or Home Depot to inquire about purchasing the bags and proceed to Moody’s for free sand for Oceanside residents.”


Vista offers 10 free unfilled sandbags per city household on Saturday, Aug. 19, between 9 a.m. and noon. Proof of residency is required. Residents can purchase fill materials at home improvement centers and building supply stores. The bags can be picked up at the Public Works Yard, 1165 E. Taylor Street.

San Marcos

San Marcos is also offering free sandbags to its residents. Sandbags can be filled and picked up at the southwest corner of the city Public Works Department parking lot, 201 Mata Way. Residents can get up to 20 sandbags per household. More information is available by calling the Public Works Department at 760-752-7550.

Elsewhere in North County

The cities of Solana Beach and Del Mar also offer storm preparation updates, including access to sandbags for their residents. Escondido had no updates as of Friday evening.

In addition, San Diego County offers bags and sand for residents of unincorporated communities in Fallbrook at Pala Mesa Fire Station No. 4, located at 4375 Pala Mesa Drive. More information is available by calling 760-723-2024. Bags without sand are also available from the county at three locations in Escondido: Deer Springs Fire Station No. 13, 10308 Meadow Glen Way East (phone: 760-751-0820), Miller Fire Station No. 15 at 9127 W. Lilac Road (phone: 760-728-8532) and San Pasqual Fire Station No. 84, 17701 San Pasqual Valley Road (phone: 858-573-1322).

The county recommends that residents of unincorporated communities contact sandbag stations ahead of time to check for availability.

Power utility SDG&E is also keeping an eye on power lines and related infrastructure.

“In anticipation of unprecedented severe weather conditions impacting the entire region from the coast to foothills to the deserts, SDG&E is increasing the number of field crews and pre-staging equipment to respond to potential, prolonged outages, so power can be restored as quickly and safely as possible to customers,” SDG&E stated in a news release Aug. 18.

The utility company advised residents to be prepared for power outages, some prolonged. Residents are urged to report downed power lines and damaged equipment by calling 911 and 800-411-SDGE (7343).

(Story updated 8/19/2023 at 1:35 a.m.)
(Story updated 8/18/2023 at 10 p.m.)