Tropical Storm Francisco intensified into a typhoon and is expected to slowly pass west of the Marianas today. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
National Weather Service meteorologist-in-charge Genevieve Cruz-Miller told Saipan Tribune that, although Francisco has strengthened into a typhoon, typhoon force winds of 74 miles per hour or greater won’t affect Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
However, Cruz-Miller said, tropical storm force winds of 39 to 73 mph do extend 130 miles from the center at this time.
“This wind field does not reach the islands but due to the proximity of the typhoon, it is highly recommended to be prepared in the event of any changes to the track,” she said in an email.
A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions (damaging winds 40mph or more) are possible in the next 12 to 48 hours.
As of 8:30pm last night, the center of Typhoon Francisco was located about 235 miles southwest of Rota, 300 miles southwest of Tinian, and 310 miles southwest of Saipan.
The National Weather Service said radar indicates that Typhoon Francisco, packing maximum sustained winds near 85 mph, is moving slowly north-northwest at about 4 mph while continuing to intensify.
Francisco is expected to continue moving toward the north-northwest through Thursday night and Friday morning. It said that typhoon force winds extend outward up to 145 miles from the center.
When in a watch, residents should take precautionary measures such as securing loose object outdoors, checking their emergency supply kits, and making sure small crafts stay in port, Cruz-Miller said.
“Residents should continue to remain alert and listen to information from the National Weather Service and the CNMI Homeland Security for further updates,” she added.
CNMI residents can expect today winds from the south at 25 to 35 mph with gusts of up to 45 mph.
“Showers are likely with the possibility of a thunderstorm…some producing heavy rainfall,” she said.
The Homeland Security and Emergency Management is advising the public to avoid venturing near exposed reefs and beaches, especially those along north and west facing reefs as rip currents will be life threatening.
Surf will be hazardous at 9 to 11 feet along south, west and north facing reefs through Friday.
“Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid boating in these conditions, if travel by boat is necessary, exercise caution, especially near reef lines and when entering or leaving harbors and inlets,” said HSEM in a special marine advisory.