Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (2023)

Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (1)

The Daily Press will provide updates through Monday as Tropical Storm Hilary passes through Southern California with a potential threat of strong wind, heavy rain, and flooding.

A tropical storm made landfall on Sunday in Baja California and was expected to move through Monday in the High Desert, with the Victor Valley and Barstow area expected to get 2 to 4 inches of rain, and 5 to 7 inches in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The storm flooded roads, washes, and backyards across the High Desert. It even prompted a visit to San Bernardino County by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The heaviest and most widespread rain was forecast to happen late Sunday morning and into Sunday night. Just after 10 p.m., the rain and wind intensified.

The storm began clearing out of the area by 4 a.m. Monday, forecasters said.

The Monday edition of the Daily Press will be delivered Tuesday with the Tuesday paper. Flooded and damaged roads along with safety concerns forced the Daily Press distribution team to call off Monday delivery.

The first-ever tropical storm warning for Southern California included a warning of life-threatening and potentially catastrophic flooding likely this weekend and early next week, the National Weather Service reported.

Monday, Aug. 21


Many school districts in the High Desert have announced there will be no school on Monday, August 21 out of an abundance of caution as Tropical Storm Hilary continues to pass through the area.

Some of the districts and charter schools include Apple Valley, Snowline, Barstow, Hesperia, Victor Elementary, Adelanto , Oro Grande and the Lewis Center for Educational Research

The Victor Valley Union High School District said they are closely monitoring weather and road conditions as the region experiences heavy rains from Hilary. Based on current forecasts, the district plans to keep all schools open on Monday. District officials will continue monitoring road conditions throughout the evening. An update will be emailed and texted to families early Monday morning.

Adults and students should watch school district websites and social media pages for possible changes to school schedules.

Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (2)

Sunday, Aug. 20

Road closures

The city of Victorville reported several streets closed due to flooding, including two near Doris Davies Park. A real-time map of the closures can be viewed at

On Sunday, Hwy. 2 was closed at the Sheep Creek Bridge near Wrightwood due to severe flooding and debris, which plugged the passage under the bridge. Lone Pine Canyon Road also closed at the bridge, according to the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council.

On Sunday, the City of Hesperia reported that Rock Springs Road from Glendale Avenue to Deep Creek Road had been closed due to flooding. Updates on the closure will be posted on social media.

The following roads in Hesperia are closed until further notice.

  • Live Oak Street between Datura Road and Mt. Shasta Drive
  • Sultana Street between Maple Avenue and Cottonwood Avenue
  • Ranchero Road between Escondido Avenue and Coyote Trail
  • Arrowhead Lake Road between Centennial Street and Sutter Street

On Sunday, Caltrans reported that Hwy. 395 , from Adelanto to Kramer Junction, was closed until further notice due to mud and debris on the highway. Commuters should seek alternative routes.

Local emergency declared

On Sunday, San Bernardino County declared a local emergency in response to Tropical Storm Hilary.

The declaration was initiated by Board of Supervisors Chair Dawn Rowe and signed by county Chief Operating Officer Luther Snoke in the capacity of acting director of emergency services.

The board will be asked to ratify the declaration at its next meeting.

Meanwhile, Gov. Newsom visited the county's Emergency Operations Center on Sunday to meet with county officials, including Rowe, Snoke, Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., Sheriff Shannon Dicus, and Emergency Services Director Daniel Munoz.

"I appreciate the governor's interest in the crisis facing our county, and his pledge to devote state resources to our response and recovery," Rowe said.

Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (3)

Gov. Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for much of Southern California on Saturday to support Hurricane Hilary response and recovery efforts as the state continues mobilizing and coordinating resources ahead of the storm’s forecasted impacts.

At Newsom's direction, there are currently more than 7,500 boots on the ground deployed to help local communities protect Californians from the impacts of Hilary.

“California has thousands of people on the ground working hand-in-hand with federal and local personnel to support communities in Hurricane Hilary’s path with resources, equipment and expertise," said Newsom, on Saturday. "We’re mobilizing all of government as we prepare and respond to this unprecedented storm.”

'That's a lot' of rain for Victorville

As of about 3 p.m. Sunday, just over 1 inch of rain had fallen in Victorville during the past 24 hours, according to Philip Gonsalves, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in San Diego.

"That's a lot," he said. Victorville averages just under 4 inches of rain a year, so the region endured about a quarter of its total annual rainfall in a short amount of time.

Gonsalves said there have been widespread reports of flooding and rockslides throughout the Southern California region since tropical storm Hilary hit this weekend. But the rainfall and the effects of the storm were expected, he said.

Caltrans reported flooding on Highway 18/Palmdale Road east of Highway 395 on Sunday afternoon. There were also reports of vehicle collisions on Interstate 15 in the Victorville area, Caltrans reported.

The eastbound lanes of Highway 18 east of Deadman's Point outside Apple Valley were closed Sunday afternoon after a big rig spilled 280,000 pounds of electrical transformers in the roadway, Caltrans said.

Later Sunday, after 5 p.m., southbound Highway 18 was closed at Deadman's Point and Bear Valley Road due to emergency road work, Caltrans reported.

"It is playing out approximately the way we expected it to. We are having flooding rockslides. We've got at least one part of Interstate 8 closed. Other parts of interstate 10 in Riverside County are impacted by flooding," he said.

Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (4)

He said the rainfall should begin to taper off beginning Monday morning and continuing into early this week.

"We're going to have some day-to-day variability with chances for afternoon showers and thunderstorms, mostly in the mountains," Gonsalves said.

Some roads turn 'super wet and slippery'

Out on Buttemere Road in Phelan they were getting steady rain at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

It's about three-quarters of a mile down a dirt road to get to the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary. P.J. Driscoll said she drove her Toyota Prius to work Sunday, despite the rain.

She is used to driving on dirt roads.

"A lot of our roads are a bit more treacherous than normal. Dirt roads. We don't have payment," said Driscoll, a senior animal keeper.

Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (5)

"I came in with it being super wet and slippery. So we'll just see how it is going out. That was about 9:30 this morning," she said. "I made it up here with my Prius, man, I can make it home."

The sanctuary is usually open on Sundays, but with Hilary closing in, officials there didn't know what to expect so they remained closed.

"At first it was a little crazy. Rain was super heavy, but then it started to calm down a bit, and then now it's picking back up," Driscoll said. "So far we haven't had any super crazy wind, but we're managing. All of our animals are in facilities. We give them coverage from the rain."

The sanctuary has a wide array of exotic animals from porcupines to venomous snakes. There are also tigers, mountain lions, a coyote and smaller monkeys, Driscoll said. About 150 animals total, she said.

The reactions to the storm among the resident exotics were as varied as the species at the sanctuary, Driscoll said.

"Some of the animals are excited about the rain. Other animals could care less, and some animals just stay inside their houses. So everyone's personalities are all different. But you know, we work with all the different types of personalities that they all have," she said.

Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (6)

Logistics airport in Victorville remained open Sunday

Joan Mendoza, who works in airport operations at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, said the facility was still open, despite the rain.

"We've been getting a lot of rain. So far it hasn't been too windy," Mendoza said. "The rain stopped an hour and a half ago, and I haven't seen the rain start up again. So far the winds have been sort of stable."

There was some isolated flooding in Victorville. Crews monitored local roads and had already closed a few areas:

  • Hughes Road is closed from Arrowhead to Avalon
  • Avalon road is closed from Hughes to Molino
  • Pebble Beach Drive is closed from Arrowhead to Riviera

Strong winds are also expected, especially in the deserts, Inland Empire and San Diego County.

Saturday, August 19

On Saturday night, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Hilary to a Category 1 hurricane that will still likely move over Southern California as a tropical storm. Flooding rain remains the highest threat.

Moisture from the storm on Saturday was located east of the Victor Valley and Palms Springs, and was traveling north through Baker and Las Vegas.

Category 4: At about 3 a.m., Hilary remained a powerful Category 4 storm continuing north just west of La Paz in the Baja peninsula, the National Weather Service reported.

Shift in direction: By 5:30 a.m., Hilary had sped up and made a slight shift eastward in its track. This results in Sunday morning through Sunday evening expected to be the time of most impact, along with slightly weaker winds.

Evacuations: At 9:55 a.m., the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department issued an evacuation warning for the communities of Oak Glen, Forest Falls, Mountain Home Village, Angelus Oaks, and northeast Yucaipa for the incoming storm system.

Hikers: Sheriff's officials have issued a warning not to hike in wilderness areas during the storm due to unsafe conditions.

Preparations: Several agencies are suggesting that residents charge electronic devices, ensure flashlights have batteries, store loose items that are kept outside. If subject to flooding, use sandbags to direct water away from homes and structures.

Tropical storm Hilary hits the High Desert, Gov. Newsom visits county, schools closed (7)

State warning: At noon, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services held a meeting to update the public. Some of the main points included:

  • The heaviest impact of the storm is expected in the eastern deserts and mountain areas.
  • The storm has the potential of producing "isolated tornadoes."
  • There will be power outages.
  • Damn spillways may release water as a normal flood operations procedure.
  • Stay safe and stay home.
  • Check in on neighbors and loved ones.
  • State officials are communicating with health facilities to ensure they maintain operations and have sufficient capacity.
  • Commuters should not attempt to cross flooded roadways.
  • Caltrans may close roadways.
  • Flooding is already occurring in Imperial and Riverside counties.

For more information, visit

Airlines: Several airlines have announced travel waivers for certain passengers. Companies like Alaska, America, Delta and United are encouraging customers to check their itinerary for changes.

Southern California Edison: SCE officials stated that if a power outage occurs, crews are positioned to restore power as quickly as safety allows. To see the latest outages, visit Also, if you see a downed power line, call 911 then notify SCE at 800-611-1911.

Sandbags: The Apple Valley Fire Protection District took to X, formerly Twitter, to ask the public for patience as they are running low again on sandbags.

Red Cross: The American Red Cross announced Saturday that it had opened an evacuation center at Redlands East Valley High School, 31000 E. Colton Avenue in Redlands. For more info, call 909-387-3911.

Post Malone concert: Post Malone Fans are asking if there will be a Hurricane Hilary meet-up.

Rain is expected to arrive sometime on Saturday night as the Glen Helen Amphitheater in Devore hosts singer Post Malone and his “If Y'all Weren't Here, I'd Be Crying” tour.

With thousands of fans expecting a concert start time of 8 p.m., Glen Helen officials on Friday took to Facebook to say, “We expect very heavy traffic for Post Malone. We highly encourage early arrival, rideshare, and carpooling. Parking lots open at 3:00 p.m.”

On Saturday, the Glen Helen Amphitheater Facebook posted a venue map and a message about the weather and that safety is their No. 1 priority.

“Please dress accordingly for the weather. All shows will go on rain or shine,” the post said. “REMINDER: Umbrellas are not permitted in our venue. Please monitor our social media pages for the latest show and weather updates.”

Several Post Malone fans shared their concerns on Facebook about the event being held in “what could be 2 to 3 inches of rain.”

A concert-goer named Leslie contacted the Daily Press with concerns about Hurricane Hilary affecting the concert.

She said the concert appears to be on schedule while agencies are telling residents to stay home and avoid roads because of the potential threat of heavy rain and flooding.She added, “The rain is supposed to start Saturday evening."

For information on sandbags and how the High Desert is preparing for Hilary, read our story "High Desert prepares for Hurricane Hilary; schools, internet, Caltrans."

For SB County storm information, call 909-387-3911 or visit

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz

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