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Tropical Depression 18W has intensified this morning and has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Phanfone. The storm's center was last located approximately 280km east of Saipan or about 440km northeast of Guam. Maximum sustained winds are at 85kph with gusts of up to 110kph. TS Phanfone is moving west northwestward at 20kph.
The National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for Saipan, Tinian, Pagan, and Alamagan. Meanwhile, a Typhoon Watch is in effect for Pagan and Alamagan. Please follow the warnings from your local officials.
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IR Image from NRLMRY
Latest satellite image shows central convection continuing to intensify and consolidate around the circulation center. Outflow remains excellent and wind shear remains light as well. Some rain bands are already pushing westward affecting the northern islands and even Saipan. Weather conditions will continue to deteriorate during the afternoon and evening hours.
Forecast Track (NOT OFFICIAL!)
Tropical Storm Phanfone will continue moving west northwestward over the next few days. It will pass north of Saipan tonight bringing stormy conditions across the region. Even Guam may see some strong winds and periods of moderate to heavy rains. Seas will be rough across the region over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Weather conditions across the Mariana Islands should improve by tomorrow evening as the system moves towards the Philippine Sea. A period of rapid intensification is possible and we are actually expecting Phanfone to reach up to Category 4 strength by the weekend. By this time, the system should start to recurve in response to a mid-latitude trough moving across East Asia. Nevertheless, Okinawa and the rest of the Ryukyu Islands, and especially Mainland Japan itself, should continue to monitor the progress of this Tropical Storm.
We'll have another update tomorrow.