Tropical Storm Tapah Passes Close To CNMI

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Heavy rains, strong winds expected on Saipan, Tinia

By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 29, 2014) – Saipan and Tinian are expected to experience heavy rains and strong winds today, Tuesday, as Tropical Storm Tapah continues to intensify and may reach typhoon intensity and pass near both islands by noon.

"The forecast has changed since this morning [Monday]. The track no longer takes it directly to Tinian/Saipan but still keeps it east of the islands," National Weather Service meteorologist-in-charge Genevieve Cruz-Miller told Saipan Tribune.

Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan announced yesterday afternoon that classes will be suspended today on Tinian and Saipan due to Tropical Storm Tapah.

In a statement, Sablan pointed out that the cancellation of classes only cover public schools on the two islands, which include K-12 program and Head Start.

"PSS management would like to inform all parents of students attending public schools on Saipan and Tinian that classes are cancelled [today], April 29, 2014, due to Tropical Storm Tapah. The storm has been upgraded to tropical storm II as of 4pm [Monday] afternoon," states the COE’s statement.

Rota public schools will remain open today. Sablan said that updated information will be made as they become available at PSS.

As of 7pm yesterday, a tropical storm warning was in effect for Saipan and Tinian. A typhoon watch remained in effect for Alamagan and Pagan.

Tropical storm warning means tropical storm force winds of 39 miles per hour to 73 mph are possible within 24 hours. Typhoon watch means typhoon force winds of 74 mph or greater are possible within 48 hours.

As of 7pm, according to the National Weather Service in Guam, Tapah was packing maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and moving north-northeast at 7 mph. Its center was about 185 miles east of Guam, 160 miles east-southeast of Rota, 165 miles southeast of Tinian, and 165 miles southeast of Saipan.

Tropical Storm Tapah is expected to continue to intensify and reach typhoon intensity within the next 6 to 12 hours, according to the advisory issued by both NWS and CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

NWS said all persons in the watch areas should review their preparedness plan and be ready to implement it should a warning be issued for their area.

NWS said all persons should continue to prepare their homes or businesses according to their typhoon disaster plan and listen for any possible warnings if it should become necessary.

As for coastal waters under watch, small crafts are advised to return to port or seek safe harbor.

Hazardous surf of 10 to 13 feet will quickly build today in the morning as the tropical depression moves closer to the islands.

"Numerous showers and isolated thunderstorms associated with tropical depression 06W are expected to start late Monday night with total rainfall of 3 to 5 inches," NWS said.

Tapah is a Malaysian name for a giant freshwater catfish, according to Cruz-Miller.

(With Moneth G. Deposa)

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