Typhoon Wutip to strengthen, may impact Guam this weekend
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 27, 2019, 5:35:47 AM EST
While the western Pacific Ocean has been quiet since Tropical Storm Pabuk struck southern Thailand in early January, a new tropical threat has taken shape.
The first tropical depression of the month formed near the Federated States of Micronesia on Tuesday.
The system quickly gained strength and was named Tropical Storm Wutip on Wednesday as it tracked across southern Chuuk State. By Thursday morning it had reached typhoon strength.
Further strengthening is expected in the coming days as Wutip becomes a more powerful typhoon.
The strengthening storm will bring unsettled weather to Chuuk State into Thursday. Gusty winds and downpours can result in localized flooding and power outages.
The island of Weno reported nearly 50 mm (2 inches) of rainfall on Wednesday as Wutip lashed the region.
Impacts will shift into eastern Yap State on Friday and continue into Saturday as the strengthening storm turns northward.
Guam will be at risk for impacts from Friday night into the weekend, and the severity of these impacts will depend on the exact track of the storm.
Two scenarios are possible for the future typhoon’s track. Scenario A will take Wutip near or over Guam, and Scenario B will take the storm farther west between Guam and Colonia, Yap, with just a glancing blow to both islands.
If Scenario A occurs, there will be a risk for flooding rainfall and damaging winds across Guam and parts of the Northern Mariana Islands. Power outages and travel disruptions will also be likely in this scenario.
A track farther south and west in Scenario B will result in just some gusty winds and occasional showers across Guam from Friday night into Sunday.
This more westward track would bring the outer rain bands near Colonia, Yap, from Saturday into Sunday before the storm tracks farther west into the Philippine Sea.
Regardless of track, seas will also turn dangerously rough around the storm as it strengthens. Conditions will become unsafe for swimmers and may result in restrictions on shipping interests across the region.
In the longer range, areas from the Philippines to Japan should monitor the track of Wutip for potential impacts next week.
There has not been a typhoon to roam the waters of the western Pacific Ocean during the month of February since Higos in 2015. Higos remained well to the east of Guam.
As AccuWeather meteorologists continue to monitor the developing storm and its future track, residents of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Chuuk and Yap are urged to review typhoon preparation checklists.
Download the free AccuWeather app to receive the latest tropical updates and learn how any stormy conditions can affect your community.
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