Expected to intensify to a typhoon
Condition I is expected to be hoisted on several islands of the Commonwealth today as Tropical Storm Champi makes its closest approach to the CNMI. It is projected to become a typhoon today.
“Once we get into Condition I we hope the community stays put wherever they’re at, whether they’re at home or at the shelter or at a hotel,” said special assistant for Homeland Security and Emergency Management Marvin Seman.
The center of Champi is expected to pass through the Northern Marianas north of Anatahan this afternoon and the closest point of approach will be about 4pm.
HSEM is looking at 4am to raise Typhoon Condition I for Agrihan, Pagan and Alamagan, which means that destructive winds of 74 mph or higher is expected within 12 hours.
Saipan and Tinian will be placed on Tropical Storm Condition I, meaning winds of 39 mph or greater may be felt within 12 hours.
“Because we’ve also learned from the [past] storm, we started announcing it out to the community in terms of when do we get into those conditions in hopes to let the community know and prepare ahead of time,” Seman said.
With Champi’s track looking similar to Typhoon Soudelor, there is still a possibility that it will change and move south, closer to Anatahan and Saipan.
“Anything is possible. Mother Nature decides to take the track where it wants to go, so right now the main focus should be preparing and making sure that everybody is safe,” Seman said.
Deputy special assistant Gerald Deleon Guerrero said that they will continue to monitor Champi and that they are ready.
“We’ll be up all night,” Deleon Guerrero said. “If anything should go wrong, we are ready.”
“Let’s just hope and pray that it stays in its course and continue to go north,” he added.
As of press time, Tropical Storm Champi was moving toward the west-northwest at 17 miles per hour. It is expected to continue west-northwest the next couple days with a gradual slowdown in forward speed.
Champi’s maximum sustained winds was at 60 mph yesterday evening with tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 150 miles south of the center and up to 115 miles north of the center.
As of the 8pm bulletin, Gov. Eloy S. Inos maintained Typhoon Condition II for the islands of Agrihan, Pagan, and Alamagan while Tropical Storm Condition II was maintained for the islands of Saipan and Tinian. A tropical storm warning remained in effect for Rota.
As early as 12pm yesterday, the Aging Center and the Kagman Community Center were opened for those who need special medical equipment and assistance. The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority is providing transportation to these shelters.
Schools that also serve as temporary shelters such as Chacha Oceanview Middle School, Koblerville Elementary School, Dandan Middle School, and Tanapag Middle School were also opened, with Public School System buses providing transportation.
Northern Islands prepared
According to Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan, residents of Alamagan, Pagan and Agrihan were informed, and are prepared for Tropical Storm Champi.
“The information has been provided by the use of single band radio. We might catch them in the morning again,” Aldan said.
He said that people in the Northern Islands, which are about 20, will be using the Japanese bunkers as shelters.
They will try to communicate with these people again this morning but the next one might be on Monday. Aldan said they have enough supplies up there.
“I think they are more prepared than we are. I already notified them a couple of days prior to the expectation of this storm to hit us in the CNMI,” Aldan said.
Schools, government, courts closed
Classes for public schools on Saipan and Tinian, which was earlier placed under Tropical Storm Condition II, are cancelled today as announced by Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan.
Rota, which was maintained under tropical storm warning, will still have classes.
“Because of this qualification, only Saipan and Tinian public schools and Head Start will close tomorrow. Rota will remain open,” Sablan said.
Mt. Carmel School and Sister Remedios Early Childhood Development Center also announced class suspensions effective today.
Inos announced on social media that work for government employees are suspended today for all non-critical personnel.
“Critical government services will still be in operation, however. Please take extra precaution as we are expecting damaging winds and heavy rain as Tropical Storm Champi continues its approach to our region,” Inos said.
The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands is also closed due to the approach of Tropical Storm Champi.
Port Heavy Weather Condition
As of 8pm yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port Guam established port heavy weather condition YANKEE for CNMI ports.
“Dead” ships or vessels/barges/drydocks unable to put to sea must make a prompt written application to the COTP. All commercial vessels greater than or equal to 200 gross tons must depart and all inbound vessels are prohibited from entering.
“Upon the setting of PHWC ZULU, which is estimated to be set at 6am on Oct. 16, 2015, the port and marinas will remain closed to incoming traffic and all cargo and bunker operations will be suspended,” it said.
It added that any vessel or facility operator desiring a Captain of the Port waiver from the above restrictions must submit a written request.