Typhoon Wutip (2019)

Last updated
Typhoon Wutip (Betty)
Typhoon (JMA  scale)
Category 5 super typhoon (SSHWS)
Wutip 2019-02-25 0345Z.jpg
Typhoon Wutip at its secondary peak intensity west of the island of Guam, on February 25.
FormedFebruary 18, 2019
DissipatedMarch 2, 2019
Highest winds 10-minute sustained: 195 km/h (120 mph)
1-minute sustained: 270 km/h (165 mph)
Lowest pressure920 hPa (mbar); 27.17 inHg
FatalitiesNone reported
Damage$3.3 million (2019 USD)
Areas affected Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands
Part of the 2019 Pacific typhoon season

Typhoon Wutip, known in the Philippines as Tropical Depression Betty, was the most powerful February typhoon on record, surpassing Typhoon Higos of 2015. [1] [2] The third tropical cyclone, second tropical storm, and the first typhoon of the 2019 Pacific typhoon season, Wutip originated from a low-pressure area on February 16, 2019. The disturbance moved westward, passing just south of the Federated States of Micronesia, before later organizing into Tropical Depression 02W on February 18, 2019. On February 20, 2019, the tropical depression intensified into a tropical storm and was named Wutip, before strengthening further into a typhoon on the next day. Wutip underwent rapid intensification, and on February 23, Wutip reached its peak intensity, with 10-minute sustained winds of 195 km/h (120 mph), 1-minute sustained winds of 270 km/h (165 mph), and a minimal pressure of 920 millibars (27 inHg) while passing to the southwest of Guam, becoming the strongest February typhoon on record as it did so.

Contents

Wutip underwent an eyewall replacement cycle shortly afterward, which caused the storm to weaken as it turned to the northwest. Wutip finished its eyewall replacement cycle on February 24, which allowed Wutip to restrengthen, with the typhoon rapidly intensifying once again. On February 25, Wutip reached a secondary peak intensity with 10-minute sustained winds of 185 km/h (115 mph), 1-minute sustained winds of 260 km/h (160 mph), and a minimum central pressure of 935 millibars (27.6 inHg), becoming the first Category 5-equivalent super typhoon recorded in the month of February. Afterward, Wutip weakened on February 26, due to encountering strong wind shear. Wutip rapidly weakened as it moved northwestward, before dissipating on March 2.

Wutip caused at least $3.3 million (2019 USD) in damages in Guam and Micronesia. [3] [4]

Meteorological history

Map plotting the storm's track and intensity, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale

Map key
Saffir-Simpson scale
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Tropical depression (<=38 mph, <=62 km/h)

Tropical storm (39-73 mph, 63-118 km/h)

Category 1 (74-95 mph, 119-153 km/h)

Category 2 (96-110 mph, 154-177 km/h)

Category 3 (111-129 mph, 178-208 km/h)

Category 4 (130-156 mph, 209-251 km/h)

Category 5 (>=157 mph, >=252 km/h)

Unknown
Storm type
Tropical cyclone
Subtropical cyclone
Extratropical cyclone / Remnant low / Tropical disturbance / Monsoon depression Wutip 2019 track.png
Map plotting the storm's track and intensity, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale
Map key
  Tropical depression (≤38 mph, ≤62 km/h)
  Tropical storm (39–73 mph, 63–118 km/h)
  Category 1 (74–95 mph, 119–153 km/h)
  Category 2 (96–110 mph, 154–177 km/h)
  Category 3 (111–129 mph, 178–208 km/h)
  Category 4 (130–156 mph, 209–251 km/h)
  Category 5 (≥157 mph, ≥252 km/h)
  Unknown
Storm type
ArrowUp.svg Extratropical cyclone / Remnant low / Tropical disturbance / Monsoon depression

On February 16, a low-pressure area formed to the south of Marshall Islands, gradually organizing as it moved westward, passing just south of the Federated States of Micronesia. [5] On February 18, the system organized into a tropical depression, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) initiated advisories on the system, with the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) following the suit on the following day, giving the storm the identifier 02W. On February 20, Tropical Depression 02W strengthened into a tropical storm and received the name Wutip from the JMA. On the same day, the National Weather Service in Tiyan, Guam issued a Typhoon Warning for Satawal in Yap State and for Puluwat in Chuuk State, anticipating Wutip to develop into a typhoon. Additionally, a Tropical Storm Warning was also issued for Fananu, Ulul, Lukunor, Losap, and Chuuk in Chuuk State. [6] On the next day, Wutip intensified into a severe tropical storm, before intensifying further into a typhoon later that day, attaining 1-minute sustained winds of 157 km/h (99 mph) at 15:00 UTC, according to the JTWC, making Wutip the equivalent of a low-end Category 2 typhoon. [7] Wutip continued to strengthen, and on February 23, the storm was estimated by the JTWC to have 1-minute sustained winds of 195 km/h (120 mph), making it a Category 3-equivalent typhoon, while also generating wave heights up to 12.5 m (41 ft), with wind gusts reaching 240 km/h (150 mph). [8] Later that day, Wutip reached its peak intensity, with 10-minute sustained winds of 195 km/h (120 mph), 1-minute sustained winds of 270 km/h (165 mph), and a minimum central pressure of 920 millibars (27 inHg), making the storm a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon as it passed to the southwest of Guam. This also allowed Wutip to surpass Typhoon Higos from 2015 as the strongest February typhoon on record. This also made Wutip the only Category 5-equivalent super typhoon recorded in the month of February, [1] and also the only Category 5-equivalent storm recorded in February in the Northern Hemisphere. [9] Typhoon Wutip underwent an eyewall replacement cycle, weakening back to Category 3-equivalent typhoon intensity as it turned to the north-northwest. [10]

Typhoon Wutip during an eyewall replacement cycle. Typhoon Wutip's Eyewall Replacement Cycle(2019).gif
Typhoon Wutip during an eyewall replacement cycle.

On February 24, Typhoon Wutip finished its eyewall replacement cycle and quickly re-intensified, resuming a trend of rapid intensification. Early on February 25, at 06:00 UTC, Wutip again became a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon, reaching a secondary peak intensity with 10-minute sustained winds of 185 km/h (115 mph), 1-minute sustained winds of 260 km/h (160 mph), and a minimum central pressure of 935 millibars (27.6 inHg). [1] [2] Early on February 26, Wutip encountered wind shear, weakening the storm once again. Around the same time, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite showed that Wutip's once-visible 45-kilometre-wide (25-nautical-mile) eye had become cloud-filled, as the storm weakened. At 15:00 UTC, the JTWC noted that Wutip's 1-minute maximum sustained winds dropped to 195 km/h (105 kn). By this time, the storm's eye could no longer be detected on satellite imagery. [11] On February 27, 2019, at 09:00 UTC, the National Weather Service of Tiyan, Guam noted that Typhoon Wutip was located near 16.3°N and 139.4°E, about 660 km (410 mi) west-northwest of Guam, and about 690 km (430 mi) west-northwest of Saipan. Wutip's 1-minute sustained winds had also decreased to 145 km/h (90 mph). [12] Wutip made a turn to the west-northwest while rapidly weakening, due to hostile conditions. On February 28, Wutip weakened into a tropical depression. On the same day, Wutip was given the name Betty by the PAGASA, as the storm entered that agency's area of responsibility in the Philippine Sea. [13] [14] On March 1, Wutip made a clockwise loop to the west, before dissipating on the next day. [15]

Preparations and impact

Wutip caused heavy infrastructural and agricultural damages across both Micronesia and Guam. Preliminary damage estimates for Wutip totaled $3.3 million. [3] [4]

Guam

Typhoon Wutip going through rapid intensification, approaching Guam. Typhoon Wutip going through rapid intensification.gif
Typhoon Wutip going through rapid intensification, approaching Guam.

Civil defense officials warned that Guam was expected to experience tropical storm force winds between 64 and 72 km/h (40–45 mph) and rainfall totals of up to 6 inches (15.24 centimeters), and they advised the residents of Guam residents to stay indoors until the storm had passed. Wutip caused power outages across the island when it passed through the area on February 23. [16] [17] The typhoon passed 165 miles (266 km) south of Guam, sparing the island the worst of Wutip's winds. [18] Wutip's closest approach was on February 24, when the storm passed 266 km (165 mi) to the southwest of Guam. The worst conditions from Wutip persisted through Saturday night, on February 23, and the storm also produced hazardous seas during that time. [19]


Micronesia

Prior to Wutip's arrival, warnings were issued for Yap and Chuuk in Federated States of Micronesia; however, the Tropical Storm Warning for Faraulep in Yap State was later cancelled. [20] Typhoon Wutip passed over Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap states in the Federated States of Micronesia from February 19–22 as a Category 2 typhoon with 1-minute sustained wind speeds of more than 160 km/h (100 mph). Wutip left at least 165 people homeless, leaving approximately 160 houses damaged or destroyed in both Chuuk and Yap. Strong winds and sea water inundation also destroyed food sources in the affected areas and rendered water sources unsafe to drink. In response to the storm's impact, local authorities declared states of emergency for Chuuk and Yap. [21]

Aftermath

Guam

On May 11, 2019, U.S. President Donald J. Trump approved the disaster declaration requested by Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. [22] [23]

Micronesia

On March 11, the Federated States of Micronesia President Peter M. Christian declared a national disaster, due to the effects of the storm, and requested international assistance. On March 12, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Heather Coble declared a disaster, due to the effects of Typhoon Wutip. [24] In response, the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance provided $100,000 to support immediate disaster relief activities, for the affected populations in Micronesia. In addition, the USAID/OFDA deployed staff based in the region to the Federated States of Micronesia, to help coordinate response activities in collaboration with the Federated States of Micronesia authorities, the U.S. Government inter-agency staff, regional humanitarian actors, and other donors. [21] On May 7, U.S. President Donald J. Trump declared "a disaster under the Compact of Free Association between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, as amended", due to damage resulting from Wutip. [25]

See also

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