Dangerous Typhoon Yutu Slams Tinian and Saipan

Dangerous Typhoon Yutu slammed Tinian and Saipan on Wednesday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Typhoon Yutu was located at latitude 15.5°N and longitude 144.8°E which put it about 35 miles (55 km) west-northwest of Saipan.  Yutu was moving toward the northwest at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 175 m.p.h. (280 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 205 m.p.h. (330 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 908 mb.

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

The eye of Typhoon Yutu passed directly over Tinian on Wednesday and the northern side of the eyewall moved over Saipan.  So, they would have experienced the strongest parts of Typhoon Yutu.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Typhoon Yutu is 40.4.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 26.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 67.1.  Typhoon Yutu was capable of causing widespread catastrophic damage when it passed over Tinian and Saipan.

Yutu is still a very powerful typhoon, but an eyewall replacement cycle appears to have started.  A rainband has wrapped around the original eye and eyewall.  The inner eye and eyewall are still intact and the strongest winds are occurring in the ring of thunderstorms that surround the original eye.  The imminent formation of a second, outer eyewall increased the size of the circulation around Typhoon Yutu.  Winds to typhoon force extend out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 240 miles (390 km) from the center.

Typhoon Yutu will remain in an environment capable of supporting a very strong typhoon for several more 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 will be little vertical wind shear.  The incipient eyewall replacement cycle will cause Typhoon Yutu to weaken when the inner eyewall dissipates.  However, Yutu could strengthen again, if it remains in a favorable environment and the outer eyewall contracts closer to the center of circulation.  Typhoon Yutu is likely to remain a powerful typhoon during the next 48 hours.

Typhoon Yutu will move southwest of a ridge of high pressure over the Western North Pacific Ocean.  The ridge will steer Yutu toward the west-northwest during the next several days.  On its anticipated track Typhoon Yutu will move away from the Northern Marianas, and conditions should gradually improve there.  Yutu could be south of Okinawa in four or five days.