May 2015 – WEST PACIFIC – Typhoon Noul is impacting Yap Island in the western Pacific Ocean and may threaten the Philippines this weekend. Noul, the western Pacific basin’s sixth named tropical cyclone of the year, is about 520 miles west-southwest of Guam, and will pose no threat to the U.S. territory. Noul strengthened from a tropical storm into a typhoon near Yap Island on Wednesday morning, local time. Yap Island is 14 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern daylight time. A typhoon warning remains in effect for Yap Island.
The center of Noul is slowly moving to the west, thanks to weak steering winds aloft. This will allow rain, strong winds and high surf to last for a lengthy period of time, perhaps through Wednesday night and into early Thursday. Winds gusted as high as 68 mph at Yap International Airport on Wednesday morning. Noul passed near the atolls of Ulithi and Fais on Monday. Just over one month ago, Ulithi, home to 700 to 800 people, was raked by Super Typhoon Maysak.
After departing Yap Island, Noul is expected to strengthen, possibly attaining Category 4 equivalent (131 mph) or super typhoon (150 mph) status by this weekend. How serious of a threat is this for the Philippines? At this time, the future track of Noul, known as “Dodong” in the Philippines, remains uncertain, with two possibilities: 1) A sharp northward turn, keeping the worst impacts east of the northern Philippines. 2) A continued west-northwest track toward the northern half of the Philippines this weekend.
Western Pacific tropical cyclones, known as typhoons when they reach hurricane-equivalent status, can form any time of year. Owing partially to this year-round calendar of potential development, roughly one-third of all the Earth’s tropical cyclones form in the western Pacific Basin. On average, 25 tropical cyclones form each year in the western Pacific Basin, with 15-16 of those strengthening to Category 1 equivalent typhoons. –Weather