Kay is weakening, but the storm is not expected to turn away from the coast until Saturday night.
Before then, it’s expected to bring flash flooding in parts of southern California and southwest Arizona Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Flash flood watches were in effect Thursday night for southern California and parts of Arizona, covering 8 million people.
From severe drought to flood and gale watches
The Imperial Valley region, home to one of the nation’s most productive farm belts, is bracing for serious damage. All of Imperial County is in severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, and has been since early spring — but getting all the rain they’ve missed out on at once will not help with recovery.
“Imperial Valley farmers are in the middle of preparing their lands for the planting season, so a half an inch to one inch of rain will cause damage and delays to their schedule,” said Robert Schettler, a spokesperson for the Imperial Irrigation District.
Here’s just how much water the region could see: Imperial County Airport on average receives 2.38 inches of rain each year. The National Weather Service is forecasting 2 to 4 inches over the course of 36 hours on Friday and Saturday.
If Imperial receives more than 3 inches of rain, it will make this month the wettest September on record. The previous wettest September was in 1976.
In Palm Springs, which typically sees 4.61 inches of rain annually, 2 to 4 inches are forecast. Three inches at Palm Springs would put this month in the top three wettest Septembers for the city, where the average September rainfall is 0.24 inches.
And Yuma, Arizona, could see 1.5 inches — which would make 2022 the wettest September since 2009. The city’s average September rainfall is 0.68 inches.
But it’s not just the water that officials are worried about.
Utility companies Pacific Power and Portland General Electric announced that they may proactively turn off power in some high-risk areas to reduce the risk of fire.
The outages would be implemented “in a limited, high-risk area to help reduce the risk of wildfire and to help protect people, property and the environment,” Portland General Electric said in a release. The utility says the move could impact about 30,000 customer meters in the Portland and Salem, Oregon area.
Governor declares state of emergency over fires
With triple-digit temperatures likely continuing for much of California Friday, new all-time high records are expected to be broken.
The dangerously high heat and coming winds are no help to the firefighters battling flames that have already charred thousands of acres.
CNN’s Stephanie Elam, Taylor Ward, Ella Nilsen and Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.