Rota, the southernmost island in the Northern Marianas, felt the brunt of Typhoon Mangkhut yesterday as it sliced through the region as it continued to move westward.
Mangkhut dumped eight to 10 inches of rain on the CNMI’s southernmost island, with sustained winds reaching 139 miles per hour (223.7 kilometers per hour)
The center of Typhoon Mangkhut raked the Marianas region late afternoon yesterday. A Category 2 has maximum sustained winds up to 96-110 mph. The typhoon was forecasted to slice through Rota and Guam.
Non-critical government offices remain closed today. All Public School System and Northern Marianas College classes are cancelled today.
According to the National Weather Service in Guam, Typhoon Mangkhut entered the Marianas as a Category 2 typhoon.
Earlier in the day, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig advised island residents to stay indoors, be prepared, and expect the worst as Mangkhut’s wrath could be felt at 6pm.
Typhoon Mangkhut was last seen moving toward the west-southwest, at a speed of 18 mph. Mangkhut is expected to maintain this general course and speed over the next 24 hours, taking the eye of Typhoon Mangkhut over Rota within the next few hours.
The community was advised to refrain from going to the water and to stay away from coastal areas with high surf advisory in effect as rip currents could reach as high as 10 feet.
Typhoon Mangkhut is expected to increase in speed over the next few days. Typhoon force winds extend outward from the center up to 40 miles. Tropical storm force winds extend outward from the center up to 145 miles to the north and up to 100 miles to the south.
According to Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office public information officer Nadine Deleon Guerrero, Mangkhut did not have time to develop into a Category 3 or 4 typhoon as forecasted before it reached the Marianas; however, Mangkhut continues to intensify.
A 49-year-old X-ray technician at the Tinian Health Clinic, Edwin Sta. Therese, said the island felt the wrath of Typhoon Mankhut starting around 6pm.
He said he remained hunkered down at his house in San Jose but saw one of his neighbors’ house lose its roof.
Sta. Therese, who used to work at the Commonwealth Health Center, said it’s the worst typhoon he has ever experienced on Tinian since moving there four years ago.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 as the strongest, he would rate Mangkhut as a 6, with Typhoon Soudelor in 2015 second to a typhoon back in 1999.
Learning from the lessons of Typhoon Soudelor three years ago, the CNMI government coordinated with the National Weather Service in Guam to get frequent updates on the status of the storm. The Governor’s Office also advised the community to prepare, with all critical agencies on alert to provide immediate assistance to those who are in need.
On Saipan, some areas in Garapan were without power. As Mahetog, Airport Road in Dandan, Capital Hill, Fina Sisu, and Susupe were reported to have no power.
Saipan Mayor’s Office staff and personnel were seen clearing roads of fallen trees and other debris.
Pacific Rim has also confirmed with press secretary Kevin Bautista that the construction cranes at the Imperial Pacific Resort construction site were secured.
The Guam-based contractor, Bautista told Saipan Tribune, is also in constant communication with a safety consultant to help in monitoring the cranes.
Bautista added that the government would conduct a post-typhoon assessment, with Pacific Rim also doing its own inspection of the construction site once the all-clear is advised.
“The government will be conducting a Commonwealth-wide assessment [today] with the structure being a part of the overall assessment,” said Bautista.
All non-critical government agencies will still have no work today after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres put Saipan, Tinian, and Rota under Typhoon Condition I since early yesterday morning.
“Typhoon conditions, including destructive winds of 74 mph or more, are expected on all three islands this afternoon through early tomorrow morning. Accordingly, all government offices will remain shut down on Tuesday and I highly advise residents to stay indoors until an “all-clear” is given.”
Torres added that the CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, through the CNMI Emergency Operations Center State Warning Point, will maintain a 24-hour operation to monitor Mangkhut’s movement
U.S. Postal Service offices in Guam, on Saipan and Rota were closed yesterday; there was no mail delivery or pickup from blue collection boxes
The USPS decisions regarding the resumption of services will be guided by information and directives issued by local public safety officials.
“Mangkut” is a Thai term for a kind of fruit.
Typhoons are categorized by the speed of the wind the system carries. A Category 1 can bring sustained winds of up to 74-95 mph. A Category 2 has maximum sustained winds up to 96-110 mph. A Category 3 has maximum sustained winds of 111-129 mph. A Category 4 has maximum sustained winds of 130-156 mph. The strongest—a Category 5—has maximum sustained winds of over 157 mph.
Meanwhile, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 occurred south of the Kermadec Islands at 2:19pm yesterday.
Based on all available data, there is no tsunami threat to Guam, Rota, Tinian, or Saipan. No tsunami impacts are expected. The Kermadec Islands are a subtropical island arc in the South Pacific Ocean. (With Jon Perez and Mark Rabago)