As major Hurricane Willa heads toward Mexico’s west coast later today, people in the U.S. Territory of Guam and the other Mariana Islands are preparing for Typhoon Yutu. The Mariana Islands lie in the western Pacific about 2,100 miles east of Hong Kong, and will likely suffer significant wind damage along with storm surge and flooding.
As of 2 a.m. Wednesday Guam time (noon Eastern time Tuesday in the U.S.), the center of the storm was about 450 miles southeast of Guam. Yutu’s winds were at 105 mph, equal to a Category 2 Atlantic hurricane, but are expected to reach at least Category 3 strength (111-129 mph) by landfall Thursday morning local time. While Guam will feel the effects of the typhoon, the direct strike and worst damage may end up on the island of Saipan. However, people on ALL the islands should be preparing.
At today’s weather briefing at Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense, Meteorologist Chip Guard said poorly constructed buildings could sustain moderate damage, and that tarps and canopies should be secured or taken down. With an election just around the corner, political signs should be well-secured or taken down, or else they could be blown away.
Guam’s Pacific Daily News has announced school closings, and the Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense has posted safety and preparedness information for everyone. Typhoon and Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for the Mariana Islands, and Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) will move up to level 2 at noon local time on Wednesday.
Officials at Naval Base Guam (NBG) are advising that everyone on the Marianas look over their emergency kits, review family emergency plans, secure outdoor items (including Halloween decorations), and keep up to date on weather conditions by following NBG social media. All drivers on NBG are also advised to take extra precautions on the roads because signs, including STOP signs, are being taken down due to the impending storm.
Once past Guam, Yutu will move across open waters for several days. The latest forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) has the storm maintaining strength and possibly hitting anywhere from the northern Philippines to Taiwan to southern Japan by early next week.