The most powerful tropical cyclone of the year, and perhaps one of the strongest tropical cyclones on the planet, Super Typhoon Yutu made a direct hit on Saipan and Tinian today. With maximum sustained winds of 180mph and gusts over 210mph, truly catastrophic conditions overcame the islands just north of Guam. Tinian and Saipan are part of the Northern Mariana Islands, a Commonwealth of the United States. Ahead of Yutu, FEMA deployed 200 people to the Northern Mariana Islands to prepare for their response to the storm’s aftermath.
A typhoon is the same as a hurricane; they’re both intense tropical cyclones. Tropical cyclones east of the International Date Line are known as hurricanes while tropical cyclones west of the International Date Line are known as typhoons. Just as significant hurricanes with destructive winds are called “major hurricanes”, typhoons with a high destructive potential are called “super typhoons.”
Emergency responders on Saipan and Tinian had to take shelter during the height of the storm, but are now in the process of assessing storm impacts as conditions become more safe for them to do so.
“My heart goes out to all who call the CNMI home. But what we suffer through together, we will overcome together,” CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres said in a press release Thursday morning.
“The winds and rain were strong, and they have tested our spirits. Already, we know friends and family who have experienced the worst of these conditions,” he said.
This same area was hit hard by another typhoon just weeks ago. Typhoon Mangkhut passed nearby on September 10, brushing the islands with Category 3 force winds.