SAN DIEGO —
In downtown San Diego, many businesses opened as usual on Sunday morning. Valets stood under umbrellas outside hotels. Cafes and diners welcomed guests in for breakfast. Rain sprinkled from light gray clouds.
At Le Parfait Paris, staff brought plants and other small patio items inside as a precaution. Manager Marina Claveau said she was keeping an eye on the weather, as the region braced for heavy rains expected later in the day from Tropical Storm Hilary.
Claveau and her tight-knit crew of workers had already planned how to make sure they stayed safe. One of her employees who typically commutes from Tijuana was staying with her for the weekend. The worker said she lives in an area that is prone to flooding and that the Uber rides she usually takes to the border weren’t likely to be out in her area if the rain gets heavy.
Claveau said she had another employee who usually uses ride sharing apps to get to work. She was ready to either drive him home herself or send him home early.
“We’re prepared,” Claveau said. “We’ve been through thick and thin together.”
Up the street at Breakfast Republic, a staple in San Diego’s brunch scene, there were so many customers that a wait list had started by 8:30 a.m.
The restaurant had given staff the option to decide whether to come to work given the storm, according to assistant manager Gustavo Olvera. He and other managers were waiting tables to help with the morning rush.
“We’re hoping for the best,” he said. “I think we’re going to be busy like any Sunday.”
The city of San Diego announced Saturday evening that beaches and parks would be closed Sunday and Monday as the storm made its way north from Mexico, but on Sunday morning there were no closure signs at Mission Beach. The boardwalk by Belmont Park was mostly empty except for a few joggers and dog walkers who braved the rain. A man and woman ventured across the sand to dip their feet in the choppy ocean waves.
One man had taken shelter from the rain under a lifeguard tower just yards from the edge of the surf, his belongings tucked neatly beneath two beach umbrellas. A broken ukulele sat in his lap. He was unaware of the approaching storm.
Most businesses at the Belmont Park amusement park were closed, but one clothing store remained open. The workers said the owner had told them to come in. If the rain gets heavy and causes flooding, the workers said, they will be allowed to lock up and leave.
At the San Ysidro Port of Entry, one of the busiest border crossings in the world, cars crossed north steadily, as did pedestrians. Some of those walking north carried luggage. Others wheeled shopping bags, as on a typical Sunday.
In a press conference Sunday afternoon, San Diego County Board Chair Nora Vargas urged residents to stay home.
National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy said the worst of the storm would hit the area between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“That’s when we expect our biggest impact from high winds, from heavy rainfall and from a major swell that’s moving up the coast,” Tardy said. “Different parts of the county will have different impacts.”
Some parts of the county have already experienced rock slides due to the storm, he said.
Tardy said residents could expect the storm to start to die down after 9 p.m.
Caroline Winn, CEO of SDG&E, said cars crashing into electrical infrastructure due to wet road conditions have already caused some power outages around the county. She said residents should be prepared for prolonged outages as crews may not be able to make repairs immediately depending on storm conditions.
Winn said crews have been strategically positioned to respond as quickly and safely as possible.
“We’re ready, and we’re bracing for the brunt of the storm,” she said.
Local officials have preemptively blocked off areas that flooded badly during the series of rain storms that pummeled Southern California early this year. That includes streets around Mission Valley and Fashion Valley malls that go near or across the San Diego River as well as streets near the border in the Tijuana River Valley.
Earlier this year, ranches along Monument Road, which leads to California’s Border Field State Park, flooded badly. Horses had to be evacuated. Around 10 a.m. Sunday, water was already starting to gather and stream in places along the roads there. The ranch’s horses mostly stood under shelters in their pastures, munching on hay.
Morrissey is a freelancer for The Times.