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Friday, September 18, 2009

Typhoon Choi-Wan finally turns away from Japan

This week I have had somewhat limited Internet access and a rather busy schedule with my day-job so I have have not been able to maintain updates of the tropical activity in the western Pacific. A few typhoons of tropical strength came ashore in south China and Vietnam causing a great deal of flooding. Typhoon Koppu caused a lot of flooding and destruction as it passed over the Philippines as a tropical depression before heading to China and Vietnam.

Typhoon Choi-Wan is currently churning in the western Pacific as a very dangerous storm. Choi-Wan had been heading steadily towards Japan and has finally turned towards the northeast. Choi-Wan had reached super-typhoon status with sustained winds as high as 160 mph (255 kph). While at full strength, Choi-Wan passed over the Northern Mariana Islands. These islands only have 15 inhabitants all of whom were uninjured. The government has requested assistance from the US Navy in evacuating all inhabitants and helping with recovery efforts. The storm hit these islands hard destroying everything in its path.

All residents of Alamagan, Agrihan facing evacuation (Saipan Tribune)

A family of six, including a newborn baby, were flown by military helicopter from Alamagan to Saipan Thursday and the CNMI government is now trying to evacuate all 12 other residents on Alamagan and Agrihan due to the utter devastation sustained by both islands in the wake of Super Typhoon Choi-Wan.

Mark Pangelinan, Emergency Management Office deputy director, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that they informed Northern Islands Mayor Valentine Taisakan of their decision-“evacuate everybody, whether they like or not.”

“Everything on Alamagan is a total damage. It's a total loss,” Pangelinan said.

One of two U.S. Navy helicopters picked up a family of six, including an infant, from Alamagan Tuesday morning and flew them to Saipan. The baby was born on Alamagan on Sunday.“We had to medivac the newborn baby.

We transported them all to the Commonwealth Health Center for medical checkup, all for precautionary measures,” Pangelinan said.

After being checked, the mother and the baby were released from the hospital yesterday. All six are now in a shelter at the Ada Gymnasium in Susupe.

--snip--

Pangelinan said all six houses on Alamagan-made up of wooden and tin materials-were blown away. He said only one structure remains standing-a facility for aboratory and research.

Packing 150 to 160 miles per hour, Super Typhoon Choi-Wan's center passed directly over Alamagan Tuesday afternoon.

Navy Helps Northern Islands of CNMI Recover From Super Typhoon Choi-Wan (Pacific News Center)

Following the aftermath of Super Typhoon Choi-Wan, USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE 3) and two MH-60S helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 arrived on station in the early morning hours of Sept. 17 to provide humanitarian
support to residents of Alamagan and Agrihan.

Choi-Wan has reduced its intensity slightly to a Category 3 storm. Further intensification is expected this weekend followed by a steady decrease in winds as the storm heads to cooler waters to the north.



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