Saipan, Tinian under typhoon watch

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A typhoon watch is now in effect for Saipan and Tinian, while a tropical storm watch is now in effect for Rota as Tropical Storm Yutu continues its northwest movement toward the Marianas.

Because of the anticipated threat of Yutu, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has declared Typhoon Condition 3 for the islands of Saipan and Tinian and Tropical Storm Condition 3 for the island of Rota as of 8pm last night.

Typhoon Condition 3 means that damaging winds of 74 mph or greater are possible within 48 hours; Tropical Storm Condition 3 means that damaging winds of 39-73 mph are possible within 48 hours.

The National Weather Service in Tiyan, Guam said that, as of 8pm yesterday, Yutu was 685 miles east-southeast of Saipan and about 700 miles east-southeast of Guam with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and moving northwest at 14 mph.

It is expected to maintain this general course over the next few days. On this track, Yutu will likely be approaching the Marianas Wednesday night.

Yutu is forecast to intensify through Tuesday, possibly becoming a typhoon. Tropical storm force winds extend outward from the center up to 140 miles to the northeast and 115 miles elsewhere.

Its closest point of approach to the CNMI is forecasted to be on Thursday evening as a Category 4-strength storm, likely passing 20-30 miles north of Saipan. The onset of 39 miles per hour winds is expected to hit Saipan and Tinian by late Wednesday night, while maximum sustained winds forecasted to be at 110 to 130 mph are expected early Thursday morning.

In an earlier statement, Torres urged the Marianas to be proactive, stay informed, and prepare for the worst.

“This storm is expected to become a typhoon by Tuesday and poses a significant threat to the Northern Mariana Islands,” he said in a statement.

Torres said the CNMI’s leadership team has already been in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and federal and military partners.

“FEMA has deployed additional personnel from Guam to Saipan to ensure support is readily available. This includes prepositioned equipment and assets, in support of recovery efforts. [Department of Defense] officials have been notified and are currently on standby. [Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality], [Department of Public Works], and the Saipan Mayor’s Office are coordinating efforts to open drainage systems to alleviate inundation on the island of Saipan, where flooding is likely to occur. Debris removal coordination is in the works,” he said.

Torres added that the Public School System and Department of Community and Cultural Affairs have been notified of shelter activation as soon as Condition 2 is called.

“A list of shelters will be out sometime tomorrow. The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority will be activated upon Condition 2 to help transport residents who need transportation to and from shelters. As a word of precaution, the best way to avoid personal injury is to seek shelter in concrete structures.”

“Now is the time to prepare. When preparing for an emergency situation, always think about the essential needs for survival: fresh water, food, and a healthful environment that keeps you and your families safe. Build a disaster supplies kit, secure loose outdoor household belongings, board up your homes if needed, contact family and loved ones, and help each other out. [Homeland Security and Emergency Management] has a complete list of instructions and guidelines for you to follow.”

 “I know we are still recovering from Typhoon Mangkhut, but…we have proven that we are a resilient community. We have overcome challenges and withstand natural disasters for years, and we get stronger as a community with each experience. Remember to always help each other out. ‘Inafa’maolek, Un Guinaiya, Tipiyeew.’ This is the spirit that brings our community together and moves our people forward,” added Torres in the press release.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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