Unfortunately typhoon Vongfong took a major toll on the LaoLao Bay ICON station. The top of the pole snapped off in the storm and the modem and any other instruments that were on the pole are no longer there. Dave and John went to the site yesterday and snorkeled around to scope out the damage; they reported that they could see some debris on the sea floor but didn't see any of the instrumentation. I've attached a few pictures.
I am not familiar with everything that was on the pole, but if there is anything that could possibly be salvaged if found, we will make an effort to get out there on SCUBA sooner rather than later to search. That being said, Vongfong has gotten huge to our west and will be sending some pretty big west swell our way over the next couple of days and it might be difficult to get the boat around.
We will also probably have to make plans to remove the remaining structure at some point. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Some background on the storm: Typhoon Vongfong is the 17th storm of the 2014 West Pacific typhoon season. JTWC warnings were first issued on October 2nd at 12Z about a system estimated at 20 knots of intensity, located just over 1000 nm ESE of Saipan. Later the system became a tropical storm and was given the name Vongfong. At 12Z on October 4th (then roughly 485 nm from Saipan) it was estimated to have gained Category-1 intensity, and roughly 35 hours before its closest pass to the islands it was estimated to have gained Category-2 intensity. At its closest the center passed within 50 nm of the site of the CREWS station at Lao Lao Bay when the typhoon was estimated to have had an intensity of 90 knots (Category 2), with 956 mb central pressure. This was at 18Z on October 5th.
|Image from www.nrlmry.navy.mil|
Reports say that CNMI residents on Rota, Tinian and Saipan prepared in advance for the storm's arrival, with more than 200 individuals seeking shelter in Public School System-designated emergency shelters. The three islands suffered some damage to structures and intermittent power outages but they appear to have escaped anything worse, and the Governor has declared the all-clear, lifting the state of emergency that had been declared before the storm.
As of 1:43pm local Saipan time on October 9th, the latest report from Steven Johnson states:
All of the AOML instruments were still attached to the top of the station. Looks like the light sensor at depth is still attached to what's left of the pylon.Judging by these reports and photos, the top of the station was completely severed and is nowhere to be found in the vicinity of the station. By CREWS design, the lower portion of the station is weighted down with lead and the top kept intentionally buoyant with structure-reinforcing polyurethane foam. This suggests that the top half if separated from the station would be completely buoyant and could therefore be carried a significant distance on the surface by waves and current. There is no reason to hope that the top of the station might be recovered, and even if it were, most of the electronics would almost certainly be unsalvageable. However, it is true that when a similar structure was destroyed in Little Cayman due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the station's data reserves were successfully read off a CF Memory Card that had spent more than a day in seawater. So there is a very small chance that some of the data collected by the station from August 1st to early October might still be found.
We at AOML in Miami send our best wishes to the people of CNMI in hopes of a quick recovery from effects of the typhoon.
(signed) Mike Jankulak