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Typhoon Mawar is heading towards Guam; risk of flooding, landslide

Authorities issued a flash flood warning for all of Guam through Thursday morning, as one of the worst storms in decades slammed into U.S. Pacific territory.

Gates rattled, trees were uprooted and utility poles were knocked down as Mawar, a typhoon with intense rains and winds of up to 140 mph, approached Guam. It weakened from Category 5 force as it approached the area, but was still at Category 4 force and approaching typhoon force conditions at 1:30 p.m. local time, according to the US National Weather Service Guam.

Weather service officials said in a Wednesday afternoon briefing that they expected the storm to pass over central Guam between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time. Seas were approaching 30 feet in some areas off the coast.

Ahead of the storm, some US Coast Guard vessels left the territory – a hub for US forces in the Pacific – as a precaution, while other vessels were hauled out or docked in heavy weather.

Guam braces for flooding, landslides and high winds from Typhoon Mawar

President Biden also approved an emergency declaration that directs federal authorities to support the local response to the typhoon.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero (D) on Tuesday ordered residents of low-lying, flood-prone coastal areas to evacuate to higher ground. Officials have also encouraged people living in homes made of more fragile materials, including wood and tin, to consider moving to emergency shelters. Landslides are a major risk.

Guam has a population of just over 150,000 people, many of whom live in villages scattered along the coast. Initially, the southern villages of Inalahan, Ipan, Talofofo, Malesso, Hagat and Humatak were particularly at risk from a severe ocean storm surge in addition to damaging winds, although weather officials later adjusted their forecasts, saying that a change in wind direction meant the likely path of the storm would cause increased water levels and waves along the west and north sides of Guam.

Residents stocked up on groceries and fresh water as authorities predicted power and water could be lost across the island, possibly for days.

Guam has a long list of tropical storms. Typhoon Karen, a Category 5 typhoon in 1962, killed 11 people and left thousands homeless. Typhoon Omar hit the island in 1992, injuring dozens of people, destroying homes and knocking out power across the island, while Typhoon Pongsona, a Category 4 storm, hit in 2002.

Weather officials expect tropical storm-force winds to persist through Thursday morning, urging residents to stay in their homes and shelters until then.

washingtonpost Gt

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