Emergency Declared in Guam as Super Typhoon Approaches

It could be fiercest storm to hit US territory in decades
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2023 6:25 PM CDT
Emergency Declared in Guam as Super Typhoon Approaches
Residents prepare for Typhoon Mawar's approach Monday, May 22, 2023, in Tamuning, Guam.   (Rick Cruz/The Pacific Daily via AP)

President Biden approved an emergency declaration as an intensifying Super Typhoon Mawar approached Guam, where anyone not living in a concrete house was urged to seek safety elsewhere and emergency shelters began to fill ahead of what could be the most powerful storm to hit the US Pacific territory in decades. Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said on social media that the declaration will support the mobilization of resources into Guam, which is "especially crucial given our distance from the continental US." Guerrero ordered residents of coastal, low-lying and flood-prone areas of the territory of over 150,000 people to evacuate to higher elevations, the AP reports.

Officials warned residents who aren’t in fully concrete structures—many homes on the far-flung island are made of wood and tin—to consider moving. Guam is a crucial hub for US forces in the Pacific and Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, Joint Region Marianas commander, authorized the evacuation of defense personnel, dependents, and employees in areas expected to be affected by the storm. With rain from the storm’s outer bands already falling on the territory, National Weather Service said the storm had been upgraded to a Category 4 “super typhoon,” meaning maximum sustained winds of 150 mph or greater.

The weather service said the storm was intensifying and warned of a "triple threat" of winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surge on Guam. The weather service said the storm could hit southern Guam around midday Wednesday local time—Tuesday evening in the continental United States. If Guam doesn’t take a direct hit, it will be very close, said Patrick Doll, the lead weather service meteorologist in Tiyan, Guam. The storm is moving at only 5 mph but has an eye 17 miles wide, meaning people at the typhoon's center could see calm conditions for over three hours and conclude, far too soon, that the worst is over, Doll said. (More Guam stories.)

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