Residents of Guam surveyed the damage Thursday after a long night of winds and lightning from Storm Mawar, which toppled coconut and mango trees and knocked out power across much of the U.S. Pacific region.
People lined up outside shops that were open to buy food and supplies. Many businesses had no electricity or internet and only accepted cash, but some ATMs were out of service.
Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon, meaning its maximum sustained winds are at least 150 miles per hour as the storm moves over open water. A Category 4 storm, packing 140 mph winds, crossed Guam “just before midnight” Wednesday local time, a local meteorologist with the National Weather Service said.
More than a foot of rain fell across Guam, with some areas approaching two feet, meteorologists said.
Mawar was the strongest storm to hit Guam in years, and weather service forecasters warned that it was expected to continue building tropical storm force winds before weakening on Thursday. As of 11 a.m. local time, the storm had moved about 105 miles northwest of Guam, but a hurricane warning was still active, the forecaster said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries. But the storm was so strong that it broke the wind sensors and radar equipment that transmits weather data to the local weather service office. Mawar also sent trees crashing down outside the building, including what one forecaster said was “our precious mango”. Two coconut trees survived.
A video circulating on social media shows a statue of Chief Gebuha, Guam’s first Christian leader, falling in the capital Hagatna.
“As the sun begins to shine, we see a chaotic scene across Guam,” said one of the meteorologists. During an update at 8 a.m. Thursday From the service office in Guam. “We look out our door and what used to be a forest looks like toothpicks. It looks like a scene from the movie ‘Twister,’ and the trees are being cut down.
Meteorologists said the good news was that conditions began to ease after the storm moved south of Guam and the largest territory, the Mariana Islands.
However, the weather service warned Guam and the nearby island of Rota were keeping hurricane warnings active as they could experience tropical-force winds throughout the morning. The service said there was no telephone service to a large part of Guam, and that its own office would close and move forecasting operations to Honolulu so employees could return to their homes.
During a live broadcast to Guam residents Wednesday night, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero urged people to stay home “for your safety and your security” until conditions are declared safe. As she spoke into the camera, howling winds and thunder could be heard in the background.
“I’ll make an assessment of the disaster on our island that it’s safe to go out,” he said.
Civil servants were assessing the damage.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency He said on Twitter The company has activated its coordination center to support Guam and the Mariana Islands.
The super typhoon is re-strengthening and may move west towards the Philippines and Taiwan, according to forecast models.
The Guam Power Commission said the island’s energy grid was providing power to only about 1,000 of its roughly 52,000 customers as of Wednesday afternoon, and it was too dangerous for repair crews to go outside. It did not update those figures as of Thursday morning in Guam.
The 150,000 or so people who live in Chicago-sized Guam, located about 1,500 miles east of the Philippines, are used to tropical cyclones. Last year in 2002, Super Typhoon Pongsona made landfall as a Category 4 typhoon. Caused more than $700 million in damage.
Stronger building codes and other improvements have reduced damage and deaths from major storms on Guam in recent years. In most cases, “we barbecue, chill, and adapt” when a tropical cyclone hits, said Wayne Charqualoff, 45, who works for the local government’s housing authority.
But since Pongsona has been around for so long, “we have a whole generation that has never experienced this,” he added. “So a small doubt started to creep in my mind. Are we really ready for this?”
As the storm approached Tuesday, President Biden declared an emergency For Guam, allows federal agencies to assist in relief efforts. Local authorities issued evacuation orders and grounded commercial flights.
The storm also affected the US military, which has several key facilities on the island. All military aircraft left the island before the storm or were placed in security hangars, Lt. Cmdr. Katie Koenig of the U.S. Navy said in a statement Wednesday. He said all the military ships had departed except for one ship that remained in port with engine trouble.
Tropical cyclones are called hurricanes or typhoons depending on where they form. Typhoons, which form from May to October, are tropical cyclones that form in the northwest Pacific and affect Asia. Studies suggest that climate change has increased the intensity and potential for destruction of such storms, as warmer oceans provide more energy to fuel them.
Mawar, whose Malaysian name means “rose”, is the second named storm in the western Pacific this season. Firstly, Tropical Storm ChanvuWeakened within two days.
John Yoon, Victoria Kim, McKenna Oxendon And Jin Yoo Young Contributed report.