Typhoon Yutu Intensifies Rapidly to Equivalent of Cat. 4 Hurricane, Imminent Threat to Marianas

Typhoon Yutu intensified rapidly on Tuesday into the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale and Yutu posed an imminent threat to the Marianas.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Typhoon Yutu was located at latitude 13.6°N and longitude 147.5°E which put it about 155 miles (255 km) east-southeast of Rota.  Yutu was moving toward the northwest at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 185 m.p.h. (295 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 935 mb.

Typhoon Warnings are in effect for Rota, Saipan and Tinian.  Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for Guam, Alamagan, Pagan and Agrihan.

Typhoon Yutu intensified rapidly during the past 24 hours.  A circular eye developed at the center of Yutu.  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Numerous bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Typhoon Yutu.  Storms near the core were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the typhoon in all directions.  The removal of mass allowed the surface pressure to decrease rapidly.

Typhoon Yutu has a large circulation.  Winds to typhoon force extend out about 65 miles (105 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 210 miles (335 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Typhoon Yutu is 31.6.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 20.8 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size index (HWISI) is 52.4.  Typhoon Yutu is capable of causing widespread extensive damage.

Typhoon Yutu will move through an environment favorable for further intensification during the next several days.  Yutu will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 31°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  Typhoon Yutu could intensify into the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  At some point a rainband will wrap around the existing eye and eyewall, and an eyewall replacement cycle will occur.  Yutu will weaken during the eyewall replacement cycle, but the typhoon could strengthen afterwards if it remains in an environment favorable for intensification.

Typhoon Yutu will move around the southwestern portion of a ridge of high pressure over the Western North Pacific Ocean.  The ridge will steer Yutu in a general west-northwesterly direction.  On its anticipated track Typhoon Yutu will reach the Northern Marianas in about 12 hours.  The core of Yutu will pass between Rota and Tinian.  Rota, Tinian and Saipan are likly to have winds to typhoon force.  Typhoon Yutu will be capable of causing extensive damage in those locations.  Guam, Alamagan, Pagan and Agrihan are likely to receive winds to tropical storm force.  Wind speeds will be stronger on the northern part of Guam and the damage potential is greater there than it is for the southern part of Guam.