Science and TechNatural Disasters


Drone footage shows historic flood damage in California desert

Cities in Southern California are now feeling the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary's wrath.
Posted at 9:15 PM, Aug 22, 2023

California's desert region of Palm Springs is used to extreme heat, and rarely is there even a hint of rain to dampen the dry climate. Then came Tropical Storm Hilary.

The tropical storm created the area's wettest August day Sunday when it dumped a whopping 3.18 inches of rain on the city by nighttime. This nearly pushed the city to reach its annual average total of 4.85 inches of rainfall within just a few hours.

And while other cities may have methods to dealing with deluges, there wasn't much the city of Palm Springs could do to protect itself from Hilary's wrath, and now they're feeling her lasting impact.

Police in Palm Springs released drone footage Monday showing the large swaths of road still covered in water and mud from the historic flash floods, causing many streets to still be closed Tuesday as crews worked to clear away the aftermath.

The storm had caused the area's only major freeway, Interstate 10, to close in both directions overnight Sunday, but some lanes were reopened by Monday afternoon. 

This stretch between Sunday and Monday is when the city experienced its largest blows.

Officials are preparing to clean up after Tropical Storm Hilary
Firefighters clearing mud off the road

Officials are preparing to clean up after Tropical Storm Hilary

In the aftermath of the tropical storm, 7,500 emergency responders have been deployed to help clean up.


Palm Springs' city manager declared a local emergency Sunday afternoon when vehicles and their riders started becoming trapped in rising water and mud. First responders were rescuing swaths of people overnight, despite the city's 911 emergency call system being down alongside downed power-lines.

As rain continued to fall Monday, the mayor of Palm Springs still urged residents to stay home as officials assessed the damage on the roads. County officials also declared a state of emergency to help make the region eligible for federal and state assistance.

It may be days or weeks until the full extent of the damage is known, as well as how to resolve it. Officials are still warning of risks like mudslides there, but so far, no deaths or serious injuries have been reported in California as a result of the Hilary.

The storm is now moving east into Nevada with less force. However, the National Weather Service is still warning of "continued life-threatening and locally catastrophic flooding." Flooding and power outages have already been reported in Mount Charleston, which is about 40 miles west of Las Vegas.