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Marianas dodge storms

Monday 17 August 2015 | Published in Regional


SAIPAN – The Northern Mariana Islands this weekend escaped a direct hit from two tropical storms that have since intensified into typhoons.

The National Weather Service on Guam says the tropical storm warnings for Guam and the Northern Marianas islands of Rota, Tinian and Saipan, and the adjacent coastal waters, have now been cancelled.

Yesterday morning Tropical Storm Goni was 144 kilometres west of Saipan. Earlier, the Marianas was on typhoon alert with potentially damaging winds and heavy rain expected.

However, outer rain bands from Goni continue to drench the Marianas and Guam.

The twin tropical systems first took shape to the east of Guam last week and are now both expected to become intense typhoons in coming days as they move west.

Tropical Storm Atasani, still over 1600 kilmetres east of Guam is not expected to be a direct concern for Guam or the CNMI as it tracks north into open ocean.

While Atsani will remain over open water this week, Goni will eventually reach Taiwan and then mainland China late in the week and into the weekend.

Hagatna, Guam, was inundated with about 250mm of rain as Goni passed through. Although the heaviest of rain is over, drenching rain bands remained across the area into Monday.

Guam escaped the worst of Goni’s wind, with gusts reaching to near 65kph as the centre of the storm passed to the north of the island on Saturday night.

Tropical Storm Goni, which passed by the Mariana islands on Sunday, did not cause additional damage on Saipan and Tinian, according to reports. However, power was reportedly cut on the island of Rota.

Saipan – which sustained structural damage during Typhoon Soudelor two weeks ago – experienced wind gusts to 90kph but suffered no further damage.

Commonwealth Utilities Corp (CUC) acting executive director John Riegel said Goni “slightly affected” recovery efforts on Saipan, saying that they had to stop their power restoration operations for safety reasons and will resume on Monday.

“That’s just one day of delay in our recovery efforts,” Riegel said.

Asked when CUC can fully restore Saipan’s power system which was knocked out by Typhoon Soudelor on August 2, Riegel said he cannot make a forecast as they have not yet completed a full assessment.

He said only one feeder was back online supplying power to the CNMI’s only hospital.

Asked about the progress of CUC’s recovery efforts, he said it’s still “less than 30 percent.”

“We cannot fully recover by September,” he added.

This week, the stage is set for both Goni and Atsani to become twin super typhoons as they continue westward.

“What is uncommon is the fact that there could be two super typhoons at the same time,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani. The last time that occurred was October 1997 with Ivan and Joan.

“The track of these two storms will keep them far enough apart from each other to prevent their wind fields from disrupting one another,” Sagliani continued.

Sagliani expects Goni to be past its peak intensity before taking aim at the corridor from Taiwan to the Korean Peninsula next weekend or early in the following week.

Meanwhile, the more northward track of Atsani will keep the future super typhoon over the open ocean through next week with only shipping interests at risk.

“There have been five super typhoons during the 2015 West Pacific Tropical Season thus far, which already surpassed the normal seasonal average of four,” continued Sagliani.

If both current storms were to become super typhoons, that would be seven for the season, making it the seventh-highest total in any single season since 1959.