Vongfong leaves Marianas islands, but where's it headed?

by Dave Ornauer
Stars and Stripes

2:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, Japan time: Now that Vongfong has exited the Marianas islands after lashing them with Category 2-equivalent winds and 10 inches of rain in some spots, the question is, where does Vongfong go from there?

Dynamic model guidance depicts a continued west-northwest track for the next day or two, followed by a turn north, almost hinting at a path similar to what Phanfone did before Vongfong. The question being, when will the northward turn come? And how close to Okinawa?

9 a.m Guam time

(AP) A typhoon carrying strong winds and heavy rains passed over the Mariana Islands, with the eye of the storm skirting the small island of Rota. Power outages and minor flooding were reported in some areas on Monday morning as damage reports were starting to arrive.

Tanya King, who was in Sinapalo, one of the population centers on Rota, said via Facebook messenger that she was without electricity and conditions remained very windy - sustained at about 75 mph - hours after the eye wall passed by. There also was minor flooding, she said. A friend of King's, who lives near the ocean, had broken windows, "but all is well," said King, 60.

It appeared the eye of Typhoon Vongfong had passed about 5 miles north of Rota early Monday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Ziobro said. The eye wall, which packs the strongest winds, probably passed over the island, he said.

Rota, which is about 10.5 miles long an d 3 miles wide, has about 2,500 residents, according to the last census. Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo asked for prayers for residents there.

The weather service canceled a flash-flood watch for the islands around 8:30 a.m. Monday, as the storm shifted farther west. Light to moderate rain was expected to continue for several hours, with occasional downpours, but flooding wasn't expected, the agency said.

Ziobro said flooding, however, was possible in areas with poor drainage.

Residents on Guam heeded warnings about high winds and flooding by taking shelter at designated public schools. The Government of Guam and many businesses were expected to be closed Monday, and most flights were canceled.

Melissa Savares, the mayor of Dededo, Guam's most populated village with more than 45,000 residents, said by phone that some who sought shelter in the schools were checking on their homes to see if it was safe for them to return.

Residents were advised to stay off the roads until they were cleared, Savares said. In some places, fallen trees are blocking passage, she said.

"We're clearing those," Savares said of the downed trees. "The winds were not as strong as we thought it would be."

Ed Propst, a manager of the Head Start Program in Saipan's public school system and a candidate for the islands' House of Representatives, said branches, leaves and debris were scattered across his yard on Saipan early Monday morning. He told The Associated Press via

Facebook messenger that he experienced several storms growing up in Saipan, but "I don't think we have had one this strong in over a decade. Or at least it feels like it."

The weather service said the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and was expected to intensify as it moved away from the islands during the next day and a half. The track was still unclear, but Japan - which had another typhoon hit the southern part of the nation on Sunday - was on the outer ed ge of Vongfong's potential track, according to the weather service.


9 p.m. Guam time _ With Machananao Elementary School filled to capacity with people seeking to escape Typhoon Vongfong, Governor of Guam’s office announced that Wettengel Elementary School in Dededo is opening its doors to folks seeking shelter. Folks up north who want to seek shelter are advised to contact their mayors’ offices. Bus service to shelters has been halted with the island in Condition of Readiness 1.

Most every passenger flight into and out of Won Pat International Airport on Monday has been canceled, and Federal Express cargo services has been delayed 24 hours until Vongfong passes. Passengers are urged to contact their airlines for rescheduling.


7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, Guam time: Guam has been placed in Condition of Readiness 1 in anticipation of the arrival of Typhoon Vongfong, the governor’s office announced at 7 p.m.

Damaging winds of 58 mph or greater are anticipated within 12 hours. All island residents have been advised to stay indoors. On base, only mission-essential personnel are required to show for duty, Joint Region Marianas announced. National Weather Service forecasts sustained 55-mph winds and 74-mph gusts early Monday morning, 5 mph stronger over northern Guam.


6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, Guam time: Typhoon Vongfong has picked up forward speed, moving west-northwest at about 24 mph, and while Monday may be a wet and windy one, Vongfong should track through the Marianas rapidly if it remains on its current forecast track. Guam remains in Condition of Readiness 2; expect an upgrade to that soon.

But it’s also intensifying as it goes, and is forecast to pass 61 miles northeast of Andersen Air Force Base as a Category 2-equivalent cyclone, packing 115-mph sustained winds and 143-mph gusts at its center. The north part of Guam remains within the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s forecast 58-mph wind bands and the rest of the island within its 40-mph wind bands.

Most services on and off base will be shuttered Monday in anticipation of Vongfong’s arrival. Public schools and the Government of Guam offices will be closed. Joint Information Center advises island residents to monitor GovGuam’s and Guam Homeland Security’s Facebook pages and tune in to Isla 630 AM, K57 AM, i94 FM, Power 98 FM, 105 the KAT, KISH 102.9 FM and KHMG 88.1 FM for updates and information.


4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, Guam time: DODDS officials announced Sunday that Andersen Elementary, McCool Elementary/Middle and Guam Hgh schools will be closed Monday due to the approach of Typhoon Vongfong.

Guam’s Joint Information Center reports that between 6 to 10 inches of rain is forecast through Tuesday morning, and with rain from previous days already saturating the ground, flooding is possible in low-lying areas, especially in the south part of the island, Route 1 Piti, Merizo, Inarajan and Pago Bay. As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a flash-flood watch until Tuesday morning.

Shelters have opened around the island for folks who don’t feel safe in their homes or if their homes are prone to flooding. North shelters are Astumbo, Machanao and Maria Ulloa Elementary Schools. Central shelter is George Washington High School. Southern shelters are Harry S. Truman and Talofofo Elementary schools. Phone 671-478-0209/10 for information.

Expectant mothers in the late stages of pregnancy and all high-risk expectant mothers can check in to Guam Memorial Hospital starting at 5 p.m. Please report to the Patient Registration Department, and bring personal ID and insurance cards, drinking water, prescription medicines, toiletries and reading materials or DVDs to help pass the time. Normal visiting hours are suspended and outpatient elective surgeries are canceled through Monday, the Guam governor’s office announced.


1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, Guam time: Condition of Readiness 2 has been issued for Guam in anticipation of Typhoon Vongfong’s forecast pass north of the island early Monday morning. National Weather Service also has Guam and the other main Marianas Islands under a typhoon warning.

Vongfong is tracking more quickly than previous projections. Latest Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast track takes Vongfong 62 miles northeast of Andersen Air Force Base at around 4 a.m. Monday, a few hours faster than earlier forecasts. JTWC has Guam well within forecast 40-mph wind bands and the northern part of the island within forecast 58-mph wind bands.

Uncertainty remains over the long term, about a 520-mile spread in solutions in the five-day extended forecast. PST will keep an eyeball out to see if Okinawa could be in Vongfong’s line of fire.


12:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, Guam time: Well, the news gets a little better for Guam and perhaps way better for Okinawa, if the latest Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast track holds.

Vongfong has tracked further northwest than previous projections and is now forecast to head 64 miles northeast of Andersen Air Force Base at about 9 a.m. Monday; that’s about 30 miles north of the last projection. But at least the north part of Guam remains well within the JTWC’s forecast 58-mph wind bands and the entire island in the 40-mph wind bands. So Monday should still be very wet and windy.

In the long term, there’s a great divide among dynamic computer models over where Vongfong will head. The models are in agreement over the next three days, but after that, JTWC says there’s a significant split, some models projecting a continued northwest track, others suggesting a curve north like the one Phanfone before it made. So Okinawa could be spared; then again, it might not. We’ll have to see. PST will keep an eye on it.


6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, Guam time:In very short order, just in its second day of existence, Vongfong has morphed into a Category 1-equivalent and continues to steam rather quickly through Micronesia toward an expected Monday arrival through the Marianas.

The news is a bit worse for Rota and Guam, for the latest Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s forecast track takes it almost directly over Rota, and just 35 miles northeast of Andersen Air Force Base around 8 a.m. Monday. At which point, Vongfong is forecast to be a Category 3-equivalent cyclone with sustained 115-mph winds and 143-mph gusts at its center. JTWC’s latest forecast track shows Guam projected to be well within Vongfong’s 58-mph wind bands.

Guam remains in Condition of Readiness 3; expect that to be accelerated early Sunday morning.

Joint Region Marianas on its Facebook page advises island residents to: Set refrigerators to the coldest settings, freeze water in jugs, check and test-run generators and ensure fuel for them is safely stored, protect electronics, have a supply of rags and old towels. Double check your typhoon supply locker.

Shirt-tailing onto that: Visit the ATM and get enough cash to last three days in case of power outages. Fuel up your vehicles. Have enough non-perishables and bottled water to last three days. Portable radio and flashlight with batteries. Diapers for the little ones and food for your furry friends as well.


12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, Guam time: Vongfong is intensifying more rapidly than earlier forecast, will likely become a typhoon later Saturday and is still on track to pass just north of Guam — which entered Condition of Readiness 3 Saturday afternoon — by midday Monday.

Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s latest forecast track takes Vongfong 77 miles northeast of Andersen Air Force Base at noon Monday, packing 104-mph sustained winds and 127-mph gusts at its center. The JTWC track places Guam well within Vongfong’s 40-mph wind bands. A typhoon watch has been issued for the main Marianas islands by the National Weather Service.

Still not certain which way Vongfong will head after it leaves the Marianas, but the extended forecast still takes Vongfong in Okinawa’s general direction. PST will keep an eyeball on it.

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