Tropical Storm Hilary’s impact: Emergency declarations, warnings, closures in San Diego

Hilary hit San Diego County on Sunday, Aug. 20, triggering California’s first ever tropical storm warning.

SD City of San Diego Hurricane Hilary presser

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and local leaders held a news conference about Hurricane Hilary on Aug. 19, 2023.

Tropical Storm Hilary pummeled San Diego County with heavy rain, gusty winds, flash flooding, and high surf on Aug. 20, 2023, leading the county to proclaim a local emergency and the city to shut down public facilities through Monday, Aug. 21.

Here’s what you need to know.

SD Gavin Newsom Todd Gloria meet to talk about Hurricane Hilary preparedness

California Gov. Gavin Newsom visited San Diego Saturday to meet with the mayor and city officials about preparedness ahead of Hurricane Hilary.

Photo via @GavinNewsom

Emergency proclamations

  • On Aug. 19, 2023, at 9:30 p.m., the County of San Diego and its top leaders proclaimed a local emergency in response to Hilary. The declaration “allows the county to fully deploy all available resources, actions, and measures deemed necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of San Diego County residents and property.”
  • Hours before this, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Southern California; the governor met with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria to discuss preparations.
  • “Everyone has a role to play in this preparation and recovery afterwards,” Gloria said at a news conference over the weekend.
  • In an effort to help a higher number of unsheltered San Diegans during the storm, the county expanded its Inclement Weather Program.
  • Pro tip: Stay ready for local disasters by registering for notifications, updates, and preparedness info via
SD NWS Hurricane Hilary rolling into SD

The National Weather Service San Diego mapped what the eye of Hilary would look like.

Watches and warnings

Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall on the Baja California peninsula on the afternoon of Aug. 20, 2023. Ahead of this, the National Weather Service San Diego (NWS) issued several warnings, watches, and statements:

  • A Tropical Storm Warning for San Diego County — including Chula Vista, Carlsbad, and Oceanside — citing peak winds between 25 and 35 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph.
  • A Flood Watch, in effect through early Monday, Aug. 21, for local coastal areas and San Diego County valleys. Mayor Gloria asked all San Diegans to avoid areas that are prone to flooding.
  • A Beach Hazards Statement, active through 12 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, for high surf across local beaches, with breaking waves of 3-6 feet, strong rip currents, and longshore currents; stay out of the water.
  • Pro tip: Here’s a visual (and very San Diego) way to taco ‘bout the difference between weather watches and warnings, per the NWS.
SD Mission Valley road closures Tropical Storm Hilary

The City of San Diego temporarily closed roads that are prone to flooding — like areas in Mission Valley.

Photo via @cityofsandiego

City closures

These city facilities and places are closed through at least Monday, Aug. 21:

  • All city public facilities including city libraries, recreation centers, and swimming pools.
  • All city beaches, regional and community parks, and open space parks.
  • All city reservoir lakes.
  • Torrey Pines, Balboa Park, and Mission Bay golf courses.
  • The City Administration Building on C Street — and all passport services.
  • Several county campgrounds are closed through Monday, Aug. 21: Dos Picos, Lake Morena, Potrero, William Heise, and Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Campground.
  • If your neighborhood’s trash and recycling pickup service is typically on Monday, it may be delayed today.

Road closures

  • The city closed some roads for potential flooding risk, including notorious parts of Mission Valley — like Mission Center Road between Hazard Center Drive and Camino de la Reina.
  • The San Diego County of Public Works continues to track road closures due to flooding — follow the agency’s updates and check out the San Diego County Flood Control District’s flooding webcams at selected low water crossings.
  • The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and San Diego Police Department are also tracking road closures.
  • Pro tip: Avoid driving altogether until the storm passes.

Power outages

  • If you’re experiencing a power outage in your neighborhood, check SDG&E’s outage map for the latest info. If you see a downed power line, stay away from it and call 911 and SDG&E at (800) 411-7343 to report it.
  • SDG&E shared storm safety tips for locals — plus info in this video.


  • San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) was supposed to start its 2023-2024 school year on Monday, Aug. 21, but SDUSD Superintendent Dr. Lamont A. Jackson said the first day of school was postponed until Tuesday, Aug. 22. This will give SDUSD — the largest school district in San Diego County — time to assess any potential storm damage to campuses or facilities and ensure a safe first day of school for all.
  • The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is monitoring school closures throughout our county.
  • SDCOE also released a list of storm safety tips for students and families.

Red Cross shelters

  • The Red Cross opened two overnight storm shelters on Sunday, Aug. 20, for locals forced from their homes in parts of north and south San Diego County: Corky Smith Gymnasium at 274 Pico Ave. in San Marcos and Southwestern College Jaguar Aquatics Wellness and Sports at 900 Otay Lakes Rd. in Chula Vista.
  • Update: These shelters closed at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21.

More info

  • The National Hurricane Center and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tracking Hilary’s every move — check the agency’s website for updates.
  • Rainfall totals are still trickling in, but the NWS estimates between 3-6 inches in parts of the county, with isolated amounts up to 10 inches.

Did you know?

  • The last time a tropical storm reached land in San Diego County was in 1939.
  • The last time a hurricane reached our county was on Oct. 2, 1858, when the so-called “San Diego Hurricane” hit with winds reaching 75 mph.
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