Typhoon Mawar hits Guam with strong winds, knocking out power
Typhoon Mawar crawled toward Guam on Wednesday afternoon, bringing hurricane-force winds that snapped trees and left most of the United States without power, authorities said.
The storm, with Category 4 hurricane strength, was the strongest to approach the Pacific island in years and could intensify by Wednesday evening, forecasters warned. The Guam Power Authority said the island’s power grid only provided power to about 1,000 of its roughly 52,000 customers and that it was too dangerous for repair crews to venture there. ‘outside.
Mawar had not officially made landfall in Guam by mid-afternoon, and it was possible the island was spared a direct hit, said Brandon Bukunt, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Guam. But the western wall of the storm’s eye had shifted across the island, he added, and residents were already feeling typhoon-force winds.
In a sign of the storm’s strength, it smashed the radar unit that sends storm images to Mr Bukunt’s office, and the tallest tree outside the office crashed into his driveway.
The roughly 150,000 people who live on Guam, a Chicago-sized island about 1,500 miles east of the Philippines, are used to tropical cyclones. The last major typhoon, Super Typhoon Pongsona, made landfall in 2002 with Category 4 hurricane strength and caused more than $700 million in damage.
In recent years, damage and fatalities from major storms have been minimized in Guam thanks to stricter building codes and advanced warnings. In most cases, “we’re just barbecuing, relaxing, adjusting” when a tropical cyclone blows, said Wayne Chargualaf, 45, who works at the local government housing authority.
But because it’s been so long since Pongsona, “We have a whole generation that has never experienced this,” he added. “So a bit of doubt started creeping into my mind. Are we really ready for this?
The center of the storm was about 40 miles east-southeast of Guam around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the weather service said in an update. The storm was moving northwest at about three miles per hour and its impact was expected to peak in the early evening.
Mawar had weakened from Category 5 strength, but its maximum sustained winds were still pushing around 140 mph, equivalent to that of a Category 4 hurricane, Bukunt said. Its southern eyewall was still offshore, but had the potential to bring even stronger winds to the island, as well as torrential rains.
“Before we lost radar, that was where the really bad weather was,” he said.
President Biden declared an emergency for Guam on Tuesday evening, allowing federal agencies to assist in relief efforts. On Wednesday, the island was firmly on an emergency basis, with evacuation orders, a flash flood warning and the cessation of commercial aviation.
And at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, all planes left the island before the storm or were placed in hangars, the Air Force said in an email.
Tropical cyclones are called typhoons or hurricanes depending on their origin. Typhoons, which tend to form from May to October, are tropical cyclones that develop in the Pacific Northwest and affect Asia. Studies indicate that climate change has increased the intensity of tropical cyclones and the potential for destruction, as a warmer ocean provides more energy that fuels them.
Mawar, a Malay name meaning “rose”, is the second named storm in the Western Pacific this season. The first, Tropical Storm Sanvu, weakened in less than two days.
Carlo Sgembelluri Pangelinan, 42, who sells container homes at a store in Barrigada Heights, a hilly and affluent neighborhood near Guam International Airport, said he doubted the storm was worse than anything he had lived.
Still, Mr Pangelinan added, he worried about people who lacked adequate shelter and animals without owners to care for them, including stray dogs.
The island’s population is overwhelmingly Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Church of Guam said in a message to worshipers on Wednesday that the fear and anxiety that permeates the island is understandable, in part because Super Typhoon Pongsona had left an “indelible impression” that could still be felt more than 20 years later.
“There is good that can be found in the midst of storms,” the message read. “The kindness and caring of people who emerge during such hardships is part of that.”
John Youn, victoria kim, McKenna Oxenden And Jin Yu Young contributed report.