The strongest storm of 2018 triggers a catastrophic blow to US territories in the western Pacific.
A reinforcing super typhoon Yutu with sustained winds of 180 mph is on its way through the USA Northern Mariana Islands
The storm is raging across the islands of Saipan and Tinian, both US territories, and is becoming one of the most intense storms – if not most – on the US soil.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center now considers Yutu an incredibly heavy Category 5 typhoon. Since reconnaissance aircraft do not fly in the Western Pacific to directly measure conditions within storms, the intensity of 180 mph or 155 knots is based on estimates from satellites.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherModels.com tweeted that the storm would be a "Category 6 if the Atlantic scale were extrapolated".
According to Phil Klotzbach of the Capital Weather Gang, Yutu is "associated with Mangkhut for the strongest storm of the 2018 season to date." More strongly, Yutu will be among the most intense storms ever recorded.
"This is a historically significant event" Michael Lowry tweeted a hurricane specialist to the Federal Emergency Management Agency
The West Pacific is home to the strongest tropical cyclones in the world. Yutu's strength may be unprecedented in modern history for the Northern Mariana Islands. The islands are home to just over 50,000 people, most of whom live on the largest, northernmost island of Saipan.
Yutu traverses the island chain. In Saipan gusts of wind were recorded to hurricane force and much worse will pass if the Eye of the Storm passes. Gusts could exceed 200 miles per hour.
A terrifying, scratchy wind can be heard in the audio of a living EarthCam broadcast from the island. When the storm approached Saipan, the pressure fell at an astonishing speed .
The islands of Tinian and Saipan take the eye wall of the right front quadrant of Yutu, where typically the storm is strongest, severe conditions are found. In these areas, extreme destruction and suffering can be expected both in the short and long term.
The National Weather Service consultation on the islands sent a dire message warning of "devastating damage" from the "collapse" of residential buildings, "partial or total destruction of industrial and residential buildings, and loss of Water and Electricity for Days to Weeks.
In addition to winds that flatten structures and forests, a storm surge as high as 20 feet is possible in the most affected coastal areas, a storm surge acts like a storm-driven tsunami, and the 20-meter high Wave counts no waves – Rain approaching or exceeding a foot is likely to cause flooding and landslides of freshwater.
It's a classic and absolute textbook storm on the satellite that resembles a circular saw, you do not see it much more intense
After passing through the Mariana Islands, Yutu will likely keep an intensity close to her peak for the next day or two before slowly fading as she moves to the Philippine Sea. The models are mixed, whether Yutu will beat more land at this point. The Philippines to Japan should keep an eye on.