Super Typhoon Hagibis is big, and it’s gotten big fast.
Hagibis has transformed from a tropical storm to a super typhoon – the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane – in about 18 hours. With whipping 180 mile-per-hour winds – occasionally breaking into 195 mile-per-hour gusts – and huge bands of thunderstorms, the storm has the potential to become the strongest of the year thus far.
The National Weather Service has issued typhoon warnings for a number of islands in the North Pacific Ocean. These include Guam, a U.S. territory, and Tinian and Saipan, both part of the Northern Mariana Islands, another United States commonwealth. Tinian and Saipan were significantly affected by the catastrophic Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018. Both islands are still in the process of recovery, with many residents living in temporary shelters, and thus are particularly vulnerable to storms.
Current forecasts predict that the storm’s relatively small eye will pass above these islands, but heavy rainfall and 80 mile-per-hour gusts of wind have been predicted nonetheless.
Torrential rains, flash flooding, and high surf are expected throughout the Northern Mariana Islands. Hagibis is expected to gradually weaken by mid-week, and to move toward mainland Japan by the end of the week.
Hagibis’ lightning-fast intensification has invited comparisons to Hurricane Patricia, the second-largest storm ever recorded worldwide. In 2015, Patricia brought fatalities, torrential rains, and significant damage to parts of Central America and Mexico.
Direct Relief has extensive experience responding to tropical storms around the world. In the wake of Super Typhoon Yutu, the organization provided requested medical aid, shipping a total of nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies.
The organization’s emergency response team is carefully monitoring the progress of Super Typhoon Hagibis and is preparing to respond as needed.