Hurricane Hilary Prompts Unsettling Reactions from Angelenos

The category four hurricane that devastated regions of Mexico and the United States was largely impacted by climate change and variations from El Niño.

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On August 18, the National Hurricane Center issued the first Southern California tropical storm watch in history as Hurricane Hilary barreled up the coast. At its worst, Hilary was a category four Pacific Hurricane, which hit 145 mile per hour winds, brought flooding, mudslides, and torrential rainfall to the Pacific Coast of Mexico, the Baja California Peninsula and the Southwestern United States, and broke state rainfall records as far away as Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.,In California, portions of I-8, I-10, I-15, SR 14, and the Pacific Coast Highway closed due to flooding and rockslides; more than 5,000 customers in LA were left without electricity, and rainfall totals reached as high as 11.74 inches around San Jacinto Peak. The worst of the damage, however, was in Mexico, where nearly 1,900 people were evacuated to shelters in the Baja Peninsula and the country has faced two casualties. In Los Angeles, this was many people’s first hurricane, and while understandable that people may not have known what to do, it was a bit surprising to see the degree to which individuals failed to heed basic safety recommendations and downplayed the storm on social media. Ethan explores how climate change and El Niño could have impacted this historically unusual storm and why the response from Angelenos was so unsettling in this week’s “Tip of the Iceberg.”

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at

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Writer: Ethan Brown, Velina Georgi, Mo Polyak, Emma Quarequio

Fact Checker: Ainsley Jane Tambling

Editor: Megan Antone, Saige Gipson

Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Owen Reith

Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak

Music: Brett Sawka

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.

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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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