Tropical Storm Hilary became a hurricane early Thursday morning as forecasters warned it would continue to rapidly strengthen through the day and could potentially bring “significant impacts” to Mexico and the Southwestern United States this weekend.

As of Thursday morning, the storm, the eighth named storm of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season this year, had sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, with higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center. Tropical disturbances that have sustained winds of 39 m.p.h. earn a name. Once winds reach 74 m.p.h., a storm becomes a hurricane, and at 111 m.p.h. it becomes a major hurricane.

Hilary formed 470 miles off the coast of Manzanillo, Mexico, on Wednesday and was moving west-northwest toward Baja California. The hurricane was expected to intensify on Thursday and become a major hurricane of Category 3 or higher later Thursday. On Saturday and Sunday, before making landfall, it will rapidly weaken as it moves over colder waters.

Because of the storm’s angle to the coast, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact landfall location, but forecasters are fairly confident that Hilary will continue on its current trajectory, turning north on Friday and moving parallel to the coast.

Hilary will bring up to six inches of rain, with isolated higher amounts, across portions of the Baja California Peninsula through Monday morning, with the possibility of flash flooding, meteorologists said Thursday. Rain will begin Friday in portions of the Southwest and will peak Sunday into Monday.

Stefanie Sullivan, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in San Diego, said a worst-case scenario for Southern California would be if the track shifted farther west and made landfall in California, which could produce much stronger winds and larger surf. The only tropical cyclone to truly make landfall in Southern California was an unnamed storm in 1939 that made landfall in Long Beach, she said.

The better scenario for California could be worse for Arizona and Baja California. If the storm tracks farther east into the Baja California peninsula over the next couple of days, the moisture and heavy rainfall would be shifted east.

A difference of just 100 miles or so in the track of the storm could mean a large change for the expected weather, forecasters with the Los Angeles weather office said.

A tropical storm warning was issued by Mexico’s government for the southern portion of Baja California Sur from Cabo San Lazaro southward and Los Barriles southward. A tropical storm watch also stretched from north of Cabo San Lazaro to Puerto San Andresito and north of Los Barriles to San Evaristo.

Waves generated by the storm could also form life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season has been very active over the past few weeks, but most of these recent storms have tracked west toward Hawaii, including Hurricane Dora, which helped enhance extreme winds that led to the devastating wildfires on Maui.

It is “exceedingly rare” for a tropical storm to come off the ocean and make landfall in California, Ms. Sullivan said. However, storms have come close or weakened before coming ashore, still causing flooding and dangerous winds, like Kay, a post-tropical cyclone, last year. Sometimes storms even move across the state from Mexico; in 1997, Hurricane Nora made landfall in Baja California before moving inland and reaching Arizona as a tropical storm.

Hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific began on May 15, two weeks before the Atlantic season started. The seasons run until Nov. 30.

Complicating things in the Pacific this year is the development of El Niño, the intermittent, large-scale weather pattern that can have wide-ranging effects on weather around the world.

In the Pacific, an El Niño reduces wind shear, a term that refers to changes in wind speed and direction. That instability normally helps prevent the formation of storms, so a reduction in wind shear increases the chances for storms. (In the Atlantic, El Niño has the opposite effect, increasing wind shear and thus reducing the chances for storm formation.)

Hawaii is in the central Pacific but is occasionally affected by storms that form to the east. It is unusual, however, for a named storm to make landfall in Hawaii, given that the state’s land area is small and divided among several islands. The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Iniki, in 1992. In 2020, Hurricane Douglas avoided a direct hit on the state but nevertheless produced damaging winds.

An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season has 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. The Central Pacific typically has four or five named storms that develop or move across the basin annually.

There is solid consensus among scientists that hurricanes are becoming more powerful because of climate change. Although there might not be more named storms overall, the likelihood of major hurricanes is increasing.

Climate change is also affecting the amount of rain that storms can produce. In a warming world, the air can hold more moisture, which means a named storm can hold and produce more rainfall, as Hurricane Harvey did in Texas in 2017, when some areas received more than 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours.

Researchers have also found that storms have slowed down over the past few decades.

When a storm slows down over water, it increases the amount of moisture it can absorb. When the storm slows over land, it increases the amount of rain that falls over a single location, as with Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which slowed to a crawl over the northwestern Bahamas, resulting in 22.84 inches of rain at Hope Town over the storm’s duration.

These are just a few ways that climate change is most likely affecting these storms. Research shows there may be other impacts as well, including storm surge, rapid intensification and a broader reach of tropical systems.

Derrick Bryson Taylor contributed reporting.

Book bans are rising at a rapid pace in school districts around the United States, driven by new laws and regulations that limit what kinds of books children can access, according to a new report from PEN America, a free speech organization.

From July to December 2022, PEN found 1,477 cases of books being removed, up from 1,149 during the previous six months. Since the organization began tracking bans in July 2021, it has counted more than 4,000 instances of book removals using news reports, public records requests and publicly available data.

The numbers don’t reflect the full scope of the efforts, since new mandates in some states requiring schools to vet all their reading material for potentially offensive content have led to mass removals of books, which PEN was unable to track, the report says.

The statistic also fails to capture the rapid evolution of book restrictions into what many free speech organizations consider a worrisome new phase: Book bans are increasingly driven by organized efforts led by elected officials or activists groups whose actions can affect a whole district or state.

Of the nearly 1,500 book removals that PEN tracked in the last six months of 2022, the majority — nearly 75 percent — were driven by organized efforts or because of new legislation.

Seven states, including Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Utah, passed laws last year that impose limits on material in libraries, according to analysis done by EveryLibrary, a political action committee for libraries. This year, the group is tracking 113 bills across the country that it says would negatively impact libraries or curtail people’s freedom to read.

“This is much bigger than you can really count,” said Jonathan Friedman, the director of free expression and education at PEN America. “People need to understand that it’s not a single book being removed in a single school district, it’s a set of ideas that are under threat just about everywhere.”

PEN’s analysis follows similar findings by the American Library Association, which recently released a report showing that efforts to ban books nearly doubled in 2022 over the previous year, and reached the highest number of complaints since the association began studying censorship efforts more than 20 years ago. The association found that book challenges are now increasingly being filed against multiple titles at once. In the past, libraries and schools typically received complaints about a single work.

“We’ve had two record-breaking years, and those of us who are fighting book bans really have our work cut out for us,” said Christopher Finan, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship. “At this point, we’re fighting an uphill battle.”

Free speech advocates are troubled by not just the sharp rise in book bans, but also the new ways in which books are being targeted. Until fairly recently, most book removals occurred when a parent raised concerns about a title with a teacher or librarian. Complaints were typically resolved quietly, after a school board or committee evaluated the material and determined whether it was appropriate for students.

That began to change during the pandemic, with the rise of groups like Moms for Liberty and Utah Parents United, which formed to oppose Covid-19 restrictions, began to focus on the content of school curriculums and libraries. Members of these groups started showing up at school board meetings to demand that certain books be removed and circulating online lists of titles they found objectionable.

The rise of these networks meant that specific books — often titles that center on L.G.B.T.Q. themes or that address racial inequality — were being targeted all over the country. The debate around what constitutes appropriate reading material for students also became increasingly politicized and vitriolic. Librarians and teachers have been accused of promoting pedophilia, and some have lost their jobs or quit under pressure after refusing to remove books.

PEN and other free speech groups say that the new laws have had a chilling effect.

In Florida, where the State Legislature passed a law requiring that a certified media specialist evaluate all the books on school classroom and library shelves, some districts advised schools to limit access to all the titles until they could vetted, resulting in empty library shelves in some schools. Similarly, after Tennessee passed the “Age Appropriate Materials Act,” which required schools to catalog all the books in their classrooms and libraries to ensure there was no inappropriate content, some teachers chose to remove or cover up their entire classroom libraries rather than risk violating the law.

This week, Tennessee lawmakers went further and passed a bill that would subject book publishers and distributors to criminal prosecution and hefty fines for providing public schools with material that is deemed to be obscene. In a statement, PEN called on Gov. Bill Lee to reject the bill, arguing that it serves no purpose other than to intimidate publishers into self-censorship.

PEN’s analysis tracked bans in 21 states, affecting 66 school districts, but found that book removals were concentrated in a handful of states. Texas had the highest number, with 438 removals, followed by Florida, with 357, then Missouri, where 315 books were banned, and Utah and South Carolina, which each saw more than 100 titles removed.

Many of the same titles are being targeted around the country. Among the most banned books last year were “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, “Flamer” by Mike Curato, “Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins, a graphic novel edition of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and “Milk and Honey,” a poetry collection by Rupi Kaur.

“I do fear we’re losing sight of just how unusual this is,” Friedman said. “Book bans are becoming normalized in many places.”

Truth Social is where Trump vents his feelings and thoughts, and what he has posted over the last few hours looks like the pressure of the likely indictment is getting to him.

Trump wrote:

Isn’t it terrible that D.A. Bragg refuses to do the right thing and “call it a day?” He would rather indict an innocent man and create years of hatred, chaos, and turmoil, than give him his well deserved “freedom.” The whole Country sees what is going on, and they’re not going to take it anymore. They’ve had enough! There was no Error made, No Misdemeanor, No Crime and, above all, NO CASE. They spied on my campaign, Rigged the Election, falsely Impeached, cheated and lied. They are HUMAN SCUM!


This is the person who is beating Ron DeSantis right now in the Republican presidential primary. It speaks volumes about Ron DeSantis as a candidate if he can’t defeat Trump.

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The failed former president sounds like a complete basket case right now, and each day that goes by without the indictment dropping equals more pressure building on Trump.

The protests that he called for have not materialized. There doesn’t seem to be any national outrage, or Trump supporters taking to the streets to protest.

Earlier in the day, Trump called for every single known prosecutor that is investigating him to be removed. 

Donald Trump is cracking under the pressure. This is the first time in his life that he has faced the potential of criminal charges for his behavior, and at his current pace, things could be much worse by the time the indictment is announced.


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