Tropical Depression 20W is expected to become stronger and turn into a tropical storm as it continues to move away from the Marianas, prompting the CNMI government to maintain Tropical Storm Condition 1 for the CNMI until this afternoon.
According to the National Weather Service in Guam, tropical storm conditions, including sustained winds of 39 to 74 mph, are expected for the Marianas, including the CNMI, throughout the day.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres first declared Tropical Storm Condition 2 for the CNMI yesterday and later upgraded it to Tropical Storm Condition 1.
As of 5:31pm yesterday, the center of Tropical Depression 20W was last located at about 155 miles south-southwest of Saipan, 140 miles south-southwest of Tinian, 75 miles south-southwest of Rota, and 20 miles southwest of Guam. Tropical Depression 20W was last seen moving west-northwest at 17mph with maximum sustained winds of 35pmh.
The system is expected to maintain this general course with a slight decrease in forward speed through the weekend as it continues to intensify becoming a tropical storm sometime today.
As Tropical Depression 20W continues to pass through the Marianas, sustained tropical storm force winds are expected to carry on through the weekend with gusts up to 60mph possible, especially on Rota and Guam.
Meanwhile, as 20W strengthens, seas of 5 to 8 feet are expected to build to between 10 and 14 feet. Seas will begin to subside as 20W continues to move west-northwest.
A small craft advisory and a flash flood watch will remain in effect for the CNMI through this afternoon as heavy rainfall continues for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
Government offices shutdown
All CNMI government offices were closed at 12pm yesterday and will remain closed today. A memo issued by the Office of the Governor yesterday cited the vulnerability of the CNMI as it continues to recover from Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkhut in 2018.
The CNMI Public School System and Northern Marianas College canceled classes on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota as of 12pm yesterday. Classes will remain cancelled today.
Torres, in conjunction with the CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, and PSS activated the following locations as shelters on Saipan and Tinian effective 4pm yesterday: Marianas High School, Kagman High School, and Tinian Elementary School.
There are currently no shelters open on the island of Rota but emergency managers on the island are currently monitoring the situation with shelters on standby.
Residents on Saipan and Tinian in tents are advised to go to the closest shelter to them for care, support, and relief during the rainy conditions.
Vaccinated individuals seeking shelter must bring their COVID-19 vaccination cards (CDC vaccine card) for vaccination verification.
In compliance with current CNMI COVID-19 protocols and to ensure the safety and health of all residents seeking shelter, the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. will be conducting temperature checks and COVID-19 vaccination verifications prior to residents entering shelters.
The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority was also activated yesterday to provide transportation to the shelters throughout the day. Residents can call (670) 664-2690 for transportation to designated shelters.
United Airlines flights delayed
United Airlines announced yesterday afternoon that due to inclement weather as a result Tropical Depression 20W, flights departing from and arriving at the A. B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam, from Sept. 23 through early morning of Sept. 24 will be affected.
United urges customers to check the latest status of their flights at united.com, the United app, or by calling United Reservations at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).