by Krystal Paco
Guam - With mostly blue skies outside today and a typhoon brewing in the area, could this be the calm before the storm? More interesting to note - the typhoon's name has roots here on Guam, as every year the United Nations World Meteorological Organization submits their list for suggested names.
This year, Guam's very own "Francisco" was pulled.
With weather officials upgrading yesterday's Tropical Depression 26-W to Typhoon Francisco earlier this afternoon, lead forecaster Michael Ziobro says a Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect for Guam, while a Storm Watch continues for Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.
Currently 205 miles southwest of the island, Ziobro says if Francisco remains on its best behavior, the typhoon will continue its projected track northward towards Japan. "If it behaves like it's supposed to and that's all the computer models and it's actually behaving very well, we're just going to be on the edge of any tropical storm force winds," he explained.
As of early this afternoon, the National Weather Service reports Francisco is on track northward but at snail's pace. Only moving at five miles per hour, Francisco continues to intensify with its closest approach to Guam anticipated for Friday morning. "It's going to be closest to us tomorrow morning. The closest point of approach for Guam would be tomorrow morning sunrise and we'll very close to the tropical storm-force winds, so the watch probably won't be lifted until probably tomorrow," Ziobro said.
Francisco's maximum sustained winds have increased to near 80 miles per hour. Force winds are projected to extend out to 15 miles and tropical storm force winds to extend outward up to 130 miles from the center. This means all residents should stay out of the water until conditions clear.
He added, "If you're out on a boat, we could have some tropical storm-force conditions in the Marianas water because our waters extend 40 nautical miles away from the island, so if you're going to be out, you're going to be closer to the storm. If you go out into the waters west of the islands, you could get tropical force winds or higher - winds 50-some knots."
Even if we're spared our first typhoon in years, Ziobro advises residents to stay on high alert as we may still feel tropical storm conditions, including damaging sustained winds of 40 miles per hour or more in the next 12 to 24 hours. Despite today's mostly blue skies, Ziobro says the rain and winds are on the way.
"We're just in the space between some of these rain bands there - later tonight, late this afternoon, the rain bands should come in and we could have on and off showers with gusty winds and sometimes even after the storm moves away you get some of those rain bands," he said.
In the meantime, the island remains in Condition of Readiness 3.
Additionally, six schools are being prepared in case shelters are needed with Typhoon Francisco out on the water. These shelters will open at 6pm:
Additionally, University of Guam classes scheduled for tonight, October 17, will resume as scheduled as the island remains in COR3.