By Barbara Brown
(Tumon, Guam) Typhoon Hagibis has intensified with maximum sustained winds now being reported by the National Weather Service at 105 mph. Guam's lead meteorologist warns that this is the time the typhoon may rapidly intensify, almost quite literally overnight.
Hagibis's direction has slightly changed again, from west-northwest a few hours ago, now back to a westward direction. The typhoon is 340 miles east-northeast of Guam. Hagibis is moving at 18 mph west and is expected to move on a west to west-northwest track going forward. According to the latest NWS update, Hagibis is tracking to pass through the Marianas some time around midnight tonight north of Saipan.
Chip Guard, lead meteorologist with the NWS, stressed the uncertainty of conditions for the Marianas, especially with the probability that Hagibis will intensify rapidly now that the storm has broken the 100 mph threshold.
"This thing can grow from a Category 2 typhoon that it will likely be, when it passes north of Saipan, to a Category 4 typhoon," Mr. Guard said.
Mr. Guard told reporters the onset of heavy rains and winds that will be hazardous to people who are homeless or live in substandard homes will happen around midnight on Guam. He stressed that areas like Gun Beach and Urunao are unsafe for people to be going in the water, even now, because of the low-lying reefs that allow for strong rip currents.
Jenna Blas, spokeswoman for Civil Defense, said the island remains in Condition of Readiness 4 until the governor decides to place Guam in a more urgent COR. She tells Kandit that if the governor decides to declare COR2, the government is prepared to open emergency shelters, stand up the Emergency Operations Center and the Joint Information Center, and to continue preparing residents.
Ms. Blas stressed the importance of residents preparing now, despite the declaration of a more urgent COR level, telling Kandit that COR levels don't necessitate preparedness - the weather does.
Mr. Guard said lightning has been a factor and heavy showers throughout the day, starting this afternoon will be factors, especially for areas prone to flooding. He reminds the public of low-lying and poor drainage areas, especially on the roadways.
The slides from Mr. Guard's public presentation given at 10 a.m. today follow: