Typhoon Mawar Is Triple Threat to US Pacific Territory Guam

By David Stringer and Brian K. Sullivan | May 24, 2023

Residents and US military bases across Guam braced against the potentially devastating impact from Typhoon Mawar as the Category 4-strength storm clipped the northern tip of the Pacific island.

Mawar, which was earlier downgraded from super-typhoon status, has made its closest point of approach to Guam just north of Andersen Air Force Base but will continue to batter the island for hours, the National Weather Service said on its Facebook page at 8:30 p.m. local time. An extreme wind warning remains in effect for northern Guam until 10:45 p.m.

“This is an extremely dangerous and life threatening situation,” said Landon Aydlett, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Guam. “There will be a swath of tornado-like damage.”

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency and ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts. The US military holds almost a third of the island’s land, including the Andersen Air Force Base, and has about 6,000 US military personnel stationed on Guam.

Winds were so fierce the weather service’s office building was “vibrating,” Aydlett said. The eyewall is moving northwest at 8 miles per hour and conditions will start to improve over the next five hours or so.

“This is going to be a long night. It is going to be scary,”said Aydlett’s brother Brandon, also with the weather service in Guam.

The storm, with sustained winds of about 140 miles (225 kilometers) per hour, is expected to cause considerable damage to buildings, overturn vehicles and destroy as much as 60% of vegetation.

By Friday or Saturday, there’s a risk Mawar will enter Philippine waters, though the storm is not likely to make landfall in the country, according to its national weather bureau. Taiwan is also on alert, with authorities saying the storm’s impact is dependent on its path early next week.

Guam’s population of about 169,000 was warned by Governor Lou Leon Guerrero to seek shelter no later than 9 a.m. local time. Guerrero had ordered the evacuation of some low-lying areas on Tuesday.

Officials at the Pentagon didn’t respond to a request for comment on US military preparations for the storm. The US Marine Corps this year opened their first new military base in 70 years on Guam. B-1B bombers are regularly based at Andersen Air Force Base.

–With assistance from Bill Faries, Manolo Serapio Jr., Kevin Varley and James Herron.

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