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Hurricane Hilary: What Travelers Have to Know

As Hurricane Hilary, a Category 4 storm, headed toward the Baja California Peninsula and the Southwestern United States on Friday, sandbags were piling up on beaches in Los Cabos in Mexico and meteorologists forecast the potential of heavy rain in California as soon as Saturday. On Friday morning, Southern California was placed under its first ever tropical storm watch.

While it’s unclear where Hilary will make landfall, this severe weather may disrupt travel and impact flights this weekend, particularly through Los Cabos International Airport in San José del Cabo, Mexico. Here’s what travelers must know.

On Friday afternoon, Hurricane Hilary was moving north toward the Mexican peninsula with sustained winds of as much as 145 miles per hour. The storm is anticipated to weaken in the approaching days because it nears the west coast of the Baja California Peninsula on Saturday, and Southern California by Sunday.

Currently, there may be a hurricane watch in effect for a lot of the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula.

Forecasters anticipate there might be as much as 10 inches of rain through Sunday evening across the peninsula. Mexico’s national meteorological service said there may be intense winds and hail, in addition to possible landslides and flooding in low-lying areas. In the United States, the National Weather Service has issued flood watches for Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in effect from Sunday afternoon through Monday evening.

Major carriers are waiving change fees for flights scheduled through this weekend to or from Los Cabos Airport, with various restrictions. Changes on American Airlines should be booked by Aug. 20 and accomplished inside a yr. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are waiving fare differences for flights on or before Aug. 23. And customers flying on Southwest Airlines can rebook to fly inside 14 days of their original date of travel.

JetBlue Airways is offering rebooking for travelers with flights through Aug. 22. Alaska Airlines’s policy to permit no-fee flight changes and cancellations also applies to Loreto Airport, on the east coast of Baja California Sur.

In the United States, Roland Nuñez, a National Weather Service aviation meteorologist, said in a video posted on X, the social platform formerly often known as Twitter, that he anticipated airports in Southern California may have “issues with heavy rain” that might trigger some air traffic “disturbances” on Sunday and into early next week.

Air travelers should monitor their flight status using their airline’s website or app. Flightaware.com, a flight-tracking service, also provides timely insight into delays and cancellations at domestic and international airports.

Lilzi Orci, president of the Los Cabos Hotel Association, said that every of the association’s 93 hotels had an “motion plan” to maintain visitors protected, including a “certified place” to function a short lived refuge for guests. She said that hotels are preparing for the storm by taking steps reminiscent of clearing lawns of debris, locking down garden furniture and monitoring power regulators.

“We are at all times in communication with the San José del Cabo International Airport so we will know the status of the flights and to have the opportunity to tell the guests. In this fashion we also prevent them from going outside if their flight is canceled,” she said.

Hilton is waiving cancellation penalties through Aug. 23 at its properties in Baja California Sur, including the Beach and Golf Resort in Los Cabos and the Waldorf Astoria Pedregal, a hotel spokesperson said.

Marriott International can be waiving cancellation fees for guests who’ve stays booked at its properties “in the trail of Hurricane Hilary,” said Kerstin Sachl, a spokeswoman for the hotel brand.

Ms. Orci said that Mexican authorities had already closed the ports and beaches in Los Cabos.

Over the following few days, the coast of southwestern Mexico and the Baja California Peninsula could see large swells “prone to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” in line with an advisory from the National Weather Service within the United States.

A storm surge, accompanied by “destructive waves,” will likely cause coastal flooding along the western Baja California Peninsula, the Weather Service said. On the Baja California Sur coast, these waves could rise to to 22 feet, Mexico’s meteorological service said.

Two Carnival cruise ships, the Radiance and the Panorama, are scheduled to depart in separate sailings from Long Beach, Calif., to Mexico on Friday and Saturday. The cruise line said that while there are currently no changes to the itineraries, the corporate’s fleet operations center is monitoring the hurricane and its potential impact.

“We are continuing to watch the storm and consider guidance from the National Hurricane Center, U.S. Coast Guard and the local port authorities to supply timely updates to our guests as more information becomes available,” Carnival said in a press release. “Based on the present forecast, it could be crucial to make changes to the itineraries.”

Ceylan Yeginsu and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega contributed reporting.

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