Dolphin Intensifies Into Super Typhoon After Slamming Guam
By By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
May 16, 2015, 10:54:29 PM EDT
Dolphin unleashed its fury on Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands on Friday as torrential rain and damaging winds were reported across all of the neighboring islands.
Ahead of the cyclone's arrival, about 750 Guamanians evacuated to storm shelters, Guam's Joint Information Center reported on Friday.
The center of Dolphin tracked just north of Guam, crossing between Guam and the island of Rota on Friday, local time. Dolphin had sustained winds over 100 mph near the center of the cyclone as it made its closest approach to Guam.
Andersen Air Force Base, on the northern coastline of Guam, reported a wind gust of 170 km/h (106 mph) on Friday during the peak of the storm. Meanwhile, Siapan International Airport, on the furthest north Mariana Island, reported a peak wind gust over 100 km/h (63 mph).
Torrential downpours, damaging winds and dangerous seas continued into Friday night as Dolphin slowly moved westward, away from the islands.
Conditions improved throughout the day on Saturday ad Dolphin traced away from Guam. While squally weather will continue with occasional downpours and strong winds, the worst of the storm will have ended by Saturday morning, local time.
The outer bands of Dolphin can still produce gusty showers and thunderstorms through the day on Sunday as the typhoon continues to strengthen over the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to the damaging winds, total rain on the order of 150 to 300 mm (6 to 12 inches) will continue the threat for flash flooding through Saturday morning. Seas around the islands will remain at dangerous levels of 3 to 6 meters (10 to 20 feet) as Dolphin slowly departs to the east this weekend.
The A.B. Won Pat International Airport remained open although no inbound or outbound flights are expected for the rest of the day, the government said.
Guam gets threatened and impacted by typhoons frequently but it is unusual for the island to suffer a direct hit. Similar to Bermuda in the Atlantic, Guam is a small target for a typhoon in the vast Pacific Ocean. The odds of a typhoon's eyewall passing over the island are low.
"The most recent direct hit [by a typhoon on Guam] was Super Typhoon Pongsona in 2002," stated AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls. "Interestingly, Typhoon Chataan came very close to making a direct hit on Guam in 2002 as well."
"Pongsona was the third strongest typhoon to hit Guam behind a storm in 1900 and Typhoon Karen in 1962," Nicholls added.
After departing Guam, Dolphin intensified into a super typhoon and will continue to spin over the open waters east of the Philippines and south of Japan this weekend. Dolphin achieved super typhoon status on Saturday with winds of 240 km/h (150 mph).
A dip in the jet stream that will move from eastern Asia into Japan will then lift Dolphin northward early next week, keeping the cyclone away from the Philippines, where former Super Typhoon Noul lashed northeastern Luzon this past weekend.
Dolphin should also get steered to the northeast away from Japan next week, keeping any wind and rain over the open ocean.
AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski and Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger contributed to the content of this story.
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