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Flight Chaos Looms as Tropical Storm Hilary Approaches Southwest U.S.

Amid the impending arrival of Tropical Storm Hilary, the southwestern United States is grappling with a surge in flight cancellations and delays. As the storm hurtles toward the region, travelers and airlines are facing significant disruptions in air travel schedules. The tempestuous combination of high winds, heavy rain, and the looming threat of flooding in California and Nevada has prompted a cascade of flight disturbances.

According to the latest data released by FlightAware, a staggering total of 2,562 flights—spanning arrivals and departures within, into, or out of the U.S.—have suffered delays. Additionally, 1,006 flights have been outright canceled, all of this just as the clock struck 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The airports situated in the storm’s pathway have borne the brunt of these flight interruptions. Tropical Storm Hilary’s potent mixture of rain and wind has wreaked havoc on air travel, particularly at San Diego International Airport, where 37% of departures and 41% of arriving flights have been axed. Meanwhile, Las Vegas’s Harry Reid International Airport has experienced cancellations affecting 20% of departures and 22% of arrivals, all in accordance with the FlightAware’s reporting.

As the storm’s fury rages on, neighboring airports haven’t escaped its impact. Hollywood Burbank Airport—previously known as Bob Hope Airport—has endured cancellations for 41% of its scheduled departures and arrivals. Similarly, Orange County’s John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana has had 20% of departures and 21% of arrivals canceled, according to the figures provided by FlightAware.

While Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has been relatively fortunate, with cancellations affecting just 3% of departures and 4% of arrivals, delays have played their part, impacting 11% of departures and 10% of arrivals.

Further north, Sacramento International Airport has had 24% of departures and 18% of arrivals canceled. Oakland International Airport hasn’t fared much better, with cancellations impacting 18% of departures and arrivals.

Tropical Storm Hilary, now downgraded from hurricane status, is predicted to make landfall in Southern California, following its passage through the northern part of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The storm is set to unleash heavy rain and potent winds upon the area. The National Weather Service has raised concerns about the potential for dangerous flash flooding in mountainous and desert regions, particularly in Nevada and inland California.

With over 21 million people living in regions covered by the tropical storm warnings—stretching from Los Angeles to San Diego, and inland from Mount Laguna to Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and Victorville—the National Hurricane Center’s issuance of these warnings for Southern California is unprecedented.

As Tropical Storm Hilary journeys northward, the region is bracing for its impact. Flood alerts have been activated for Southern California, Nevada, Western Arizona, and even portions of Utah, Eastern Oregon, and Idaho. The proactive positioning of emergency resources aims to mitigate potential damage. State of emergency declarations have already been made by California Governor Gavin Newsom and Clark County City Manager Kevin Schiller for their respective jurisdictions.

As Hilary approaches with unyielding force, the coming days will undoubtedly test the mettle of both travelers and emergency responders across the affected areas.

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