By Barbara Brown
(Tumon, Guam) It's looking more and more like Saipan and Tinian will feel the brunt of Typhoon Hagibis, as weather experts and global tracking models show Hagibis intensifying rapidly and continuing to move westward.
As of 4 a.m. ChST, Hagibis was 378 nautical miles east-northeast of Guam, now moving west-northwestward, according to the latest information from the National Weather Service. The storm now packs 75 mph maximum sustained winds, making it a typhoon.
Typhoon Hagibis's forward movement has slowed to 16 mph.
At 1 a.m. today, ChST, meteorologist Robert Speta published a six-minute video explaining the forecast at around that time. Click the video above to watch this very informative piece.
Also at that time, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center released a graphic, showing that as of 1 a.m. ChST, the typhoon was expected to make its closest point of approach to Guam 142 nautical miles from Andersen Air Force Base at 1 a.m. tomorrow.
Weather experts have noticed the formation of a strong eye, with violent forces around it. Typhoon-force winds are expected to extend 20 miles from the eye. Tropical storm-force winds are expected to extend 130-miles from the eye. This means any slight movement south from the 1 a.m. forecast will bring damaging winds and rains to the island as the storm approaches.
Heavy rains are expected to start this afternoon on Guam.
Weather expert Will Weaver wrote in a post in Pacific Typhoon Season a cautionary message to officials in this area to rush preparations for Tinian and Saipan in particular: "Hagibis is likely to become a typhoon in the next few hours, and intensification is likely to continue throughout the next 2-3 days as the storm passes through the Marianas. Hagibis is likely to become a violent super typhoon over the central Philippine Sea by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Interests in the Northern Mariana Islands should rush any necessary preparations to completion over the next 12-24 hours."
The governor last night did not change Guam's condition of readiness. A decision is expected this morning.
If the governor places the island in condition of readiness 2, certain legal measures are triggered, including the closure of schools and the government of Guam, the opening of shelters as needed, and several other major logistical feats.
A heavy weather briefing is scheduled for 10 a.m. this morning. Kandit will be there.
This is a developing story.