Guam residents woke up Thursday to survey the damage after a long night of strong winds and lightning from Mavar, a storm that toppled coconut and mango trees and knocked out power across much of the US Pacific , as its strength peaked late on Wednesday night.
The storm was upgraded to a super typhoon, meaning its maximum sustained winds were at least 150 mph as it moved over open water.
As it passed over Guam, the storm packed Category 4-level winds of about 140 mph “just before midnight” local time on Wednesday, according to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Guam, which provided livestreams of the event. Update released via Early morning and after sunrise on Thursday.
One of the meteorologists said, “We are waking up to a disturbing scene across Guam just as the sunlight is starting to peek through.” During Thursday 8 AM Update From the Office of Service in Guam. “We are looking out our doors and what used to be a forest looks like toothpicks. It looks like a scene from the movie ‘Twister’, in which the trees are different.
Weather service forecasters warned that the storm was the strongest to affect Guam in years and that tropical storm-force winds were expected to continue before weakening on Thursday. The forecaster said the storm had moved 105 miles northwest of Guam as of 11 a.m. local time, but a typhoon warning was still active.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. But the storm was so strong that it tore down wind sensors and radar equipment that sent meteorological data to the local weather service office – and toppled all but two coconut trees outside the building, with one forecaster saying that ” Our prized mango tree” on the property.
The weather service said earlier that it was a long night for the island, with gale conditions set to begin on Wednesday afternoon. Forecasters said more than a foot of rain fell across Guam, with amounts reaching two feet in some areas.
The good news, meteorologists said, was that conditions began to ease after the storm exited the Mariana Islands, of which Guam is the southernmost and largest.
Nevertheless, the service cautioned that it was keeping its typhoon warnings active for Guam and Rota, the nearest island, as they could experience tropical-force winds through the morning. The service said a significant portion of Guam lacked phone service and would close its office and move forecasting operations to Honolulu so employees could return home.
During a livestream directed to residents of the island on Wednesday night, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero urged people to stay home “for your safety and for your own safety” until the situation is declared safe . As she spoke to the camera, strong winds and explosions could be heard in the background.
“What we’re feeling right now is it’s going up the Rota Channel and the strongest winds of this storm that we’re experiencing, especially to the north,” she said. “I’m assessing ” As soon as it is safe for me to go out, the desolation of our island.
Government workers were still assessing the damage.
A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said on twitter That agency had activated its coordination center to support Guam and the Mariana Islands.
The super typhoon was gaining strength and according to forecast models, May head west towards the Philippines and Taiwan,
The Guam Power Authority said the island’s energy grid was providing power to only 1,000 of its roughly 52,000 customers on Wednesday afternoon, and it was too dangerous for repair crews to venture outside. It had not updated those figures in Guam as of Thursday morning.
The 150,000 or so people who live on Guam, an island roughly the size of Chicago that sits about 1,500 miles east of the Philippines, are used to tropical cyclones. The last major one, Super Typhoon Pongsona, occurred in 2002 with the force of a Category 4 storm and over $700 million in damage,
Stronger building codes and other advances have reduced the damage and deaths from major hurricanes on Guam in recent years. In most cases, “we just barbecue, chill, adapt,” said Wayne Chargualaf, 45, who works at the local government housing authority, when a tropical cyclone blows in.
But because Pongsona has been around for so long, “we have a whole generation that has never experienced it,” he said. “So a little doubt started in my mind. Are we really ready for this?
On Tuesday, President Biden declared emergency to Guam, Allowing federal agencies to assist in relief efforts. Local authorities also issued evacuation orders and halted commercial aviation.
The storm was also affecting the US military, which has several major facilities on the island. All military aircraft had either left the island prior to the storm or were placed in protective hangars, Lt. Cmdr. Katie Koenig of the US Navy said in a statement on Wednesday. All military ships also left, except for one that had stopped in port with engine problems, he said.
tropical cyclones are called typhoon or hurricane depending on where they originate from. Typhoons, which form from May to October, are tropical cyclones that develop in the northwestern Pacific and affect Asia. studies say climate change is increased the intensity of such stormsand the potential for destruction, as a warmer ocean provides more of the energy that fuels them.
Mawar, a Malaysian name meaning “rose”, is the second storm to hit the western Pacific this season. First, Tropical Storm SanvuWeakened in less than two days.
John Yoon, Victoria Kim, McKenna Oxenden And jin yoo young Contributed reporting.