Noru causes evacuations, flight delays

Posted on Dec 19 2004

Tropical storm Noru dumped several inches of rain that flooded several portions of Saipan, prompting the temporary evacuation of some residents from their homes and resulting in delayed flights that stranded scores of passengers just a few days before Christmas.

As of 6:30pm, the Emergency Management Office disclosed that there are at least seven evacuees staying at the Dandan Elementary School.

The bad weather, however, failed to spoil holiday shopping activities of many residents, with Joeten Shopping Center’s Susupe manager Deborah Guerrero saying that shopper turnout was higher than usual.

Gov. Juan N. Babauta declared storm conditions for Saipan and Tinian, and placed Rota on condition III, which meant that storm condition might be felt on the island within 48 hours. He also placed Agrigan on storm watch.

As of 4pm yesterday, Noru packed 40-mph strong winds, as it moved northwest at 7mph. At that time, the National Weather Service located Noru’s center at about 140 miles southeast of Saipan, 140 miles east-southeast of Tinian, 150 miles east of Rota, and 355 miles south-southeast of Agrigan, and forecasted Noru’s wind strength to intensify to 50 mph last night.

The EMO first announced the threat of the storm late Saturday night, after the NWS located Noru at about 260 miles east-southeast of Saipan, 265 miles east-southeast of Tinian, and 275 miles east of Rota as of 8pm. At that time, Noru already had 40-mph strong winds while moving westerly at 14mph. Noru’s forward velocity slowed down slightly later that night to 8mph, escalating the threat of an intensifying storm.

As of 1am yesterday, Noru’s forward movement tilted to the west-northwest direction, maintaining its wind strength when it was about 215 miles east-southeast of Saipan, 220 miles east-southeast of Tinian, and 230 miles east of Rota.

Noru continued moving to this direction until about 3pm, when the storm moved slower at 5mph as it headed closer to Saipan. By 4pm, Noru moved northwesterly at 7mph.

The storm prompted the closure of seaports and delayed flights to and from the Saipan International Airport. At the Dai-Ichi Hotel Saipan Beach, dozens of passengers bound for Japan remained stranded, following the decision of airline companies to delay their flights.

The EMO also advised residents of low-lying areas to prepare for possible flooding due to six to eight inches of rainfall as forecasted by the NWS, including those living near the Susupe Lake, which usually overflows during rainy weather. The EMO also announced the opening of emergency shelters—seven on Saipan and two each on Rota and Tinian.

Designated shelters include the Kagman High School, Marianas High School, and the following public elementary schools: Tanapag, Garapan, Dandan, William S. Reyes, and Koblerville. Other emergency shelters include the Tinian elementary and high schools and the Rota high school and Aging Office in Sinapalo.

Despite the stormy weather, scores of shoppers braved department stores for their holiday shopping.

“Everybody is shopping and someone said that it’s [storm] going away,” said Guerrero, manager at the Joeten Shopping Center in Susupe. “There’s a lot of shoppers for a Sunday.”

Continuous heavy rains that damped Saipan’s roads began subsiding last night.

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