A powerful typhoon taking aim at Guam could be the strongest tropical cyclone to impact the U.S. island territory in decades.
As of Wednesday 7:50 p.m. local time (5:50 a.m. ET), the eye of Typhoon Mawar was passing over or very near northern Guam with 140 mile per hour winds – equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane. Mawar could make a rare landfall on Guam, which would mark the first time since 1976 that the island was directly hit by a Category 4 typhoon.
An earlier forecast projected Mawar to hit the island as a super typhoon packing winds as strong as 160 mph – equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.
Most of Guam was without power by Wednesday afternoon, with the island’s energy grid providing electricity to only 1,000 of its approximately 52,000 customers due to Mawar’s “severe adverse conditions,” according to the Guam Power Authority.
“We were able to avoid a complete island-wide blackout when the system severed into two grids,” the agency said in a statement. “We are working hard to maintain the last remaining customers through the storm which contributes to quicker recovery after the winds die down later tonight or in the early morning hours.”
The National Weather Service has issued typhoon, extreme wind and flash flood warnings for Guam, which is the westernmost territory of the United States, located in Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean.
Rainfall from Mawar could accumulate to as much as 20 inches on Guam, while the storm surge is forecast to reach as high as 25 feet. The typhoon was already producing waves up to 45 feet in the ocean near the island on Tuesday.
“Several inches of rain have already fallen,” the NWS said in a bulletin on Wednesday. “Flash flooding is ongoing. Considerable flash flooding is likely, even for locations that do not normally flood.” [ABC News]