Hilary Strengthens Into Major Hurricane; Airlines Issue Waivers

Hurricane Hilary, located about 400 miles south of Los Cabos and moving west-northwest at 13 mph, has become a Category 4 storm as of early Friday morning. Much of southern Baja California Sur has a tropical storm warning, while the northeastern part of the state, as well as the southwestern coast of Sonora have tropical storm watches in effect. Northwestern Baja California Sur and southwestern Baja California have hurricane watches in effect.

According to the National Hurricane Center, heavy rainfall may produce areas of flash flooding and landslides across the Baja California peninsula Friday through Sunday. The threat of hurricane-force winds—the storm currently has maximum sustained winds of 145 mph—is increasing along the west-central coast of the peninsula.

The storm, bringing with it heavy rain and strong winds, could reach California and other southwestern U.S. states by Monday.

Travel Waivers

Numerous U.S.-based airlines are offering waivers if you have travel planned to the destination over the weekend.

From United Airlines: If you’re scheduled to fly to or from Los Cabos International Airport (SJD), you can reschedule your trip and we’ll waive change fees and fare differences. But your new flight must be a United flight departing by August 23, 2023. Tickets must be in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally booked. Original ticket must have been purchased on or before August 16.

From American Airlines: If you're traveling to,  through or from SJD, your change fee is waived if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight; are booked in any fare class; bought your ticket by August 16, 2023; are scheduled to travel August 19-20, 2023; can travel August 17-22, 2023; don't change your origin or destination city; and rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference. Changes must be booked by August 20, 2023. Travel must be completed within one year of original ticket date; difference in fare may apply.

From JetBlue: Customers may rebook their flights for travel through Tuesday, August 22, 2023 prior to the departure time of their originally scheduled flight. Customers with cancelled flights may also opt for a refund to the original form of payment. Original travel must have been booked on or before Thursday, August 17, 2023.

From Southwest Airlines: Customers holding reservations to, from or through SJD on Friday, August 18, through Sunday, August 20, and want to alter their travel plans may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying additional charges.

JetBlue’s waiver code for travel advisors is WXB6LIMO23.

U.S. Impact

Heavy rainfall, according to the NHC, can stretch from San Diego to Las Vegas. Portions of western Arizona and southwestern Utah will also receive rain. Southern California and Nevada have at least a 40 percent chance of flash flooding.

By the time the storm reaches the U.S., it will likely have weakened into a tropical storm. That said, no tropical storm has made landfall in California since September 25, 1939, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center issued its first ever (since 2010) “high-risk Excessive Rainfall Outlook” for east of the mountains and in the low deserts of southern California. Isolated areas in the mountains could receive 10-plus inches of rainfall.

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