Typhoon Mawar closes in on Guam as residents shelter, military ships depart

  • This photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard overlooking Noverlooking Tumon Bay in Guam, as Super Typhoon Mawar closes in on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Residents of Guam are stockpiling supplies, battening down windows and abandoning wood and tin homes for emergency shelters as Super Typhoon Mawar bears down as the strongest storm to approach the U.S. Pacific territory in decades. ( Lt. Junior Grade Drew Lovullo/US Coast Guard via AP)

HAGATNA, Guam — Residents stockpiled supplies, battened down windows and abandoned wood and tin homes for emergency shelters as Guam was buffeted by rains and winds Wednesday from Typhoon Mawar, the strongest storm to approach the U.S. Pacific territory in decades.

The U.S. military sent away ships, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration and anyone not living in a concrete house was urged to seek safety elsewhere ahead of the typhoon, which was forecast to arrive as a Category 4 storm but could possibly strengthen to a Category 5. The last Category 5 to make a direct hit in Guam was Super Typhoon Karen in 1962.


Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said on social media that the emergency declaration will support the mobilization of resources into Guam, which is “especially crucial given our distance from the continental U.S.” Leon Guerrero ordered residents of coastal, low-lying and flood-prone areas of the territory of over 150,000 people to evacuate to higher elevations.

Federal assistance will be needed to save lives and property and “mitigate the effects of this imminent catastrophe,” Leon Guerrero said in a letter to the president requesting a “pre-landfall emergency” for Guam. Officials warned residents who aren’t in fully concrete structures — some homes on the far-flung island are made of wood and tin — to relocate.

Guam is a crucial hub for U.S. forces in the Pacific, and the Department of Defense controls about a third of the island. Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, Joint Region Marianas commander, authorized the evacuation of defense personnel, dependents and employees in areas expected to be affected

All ships were moved out to sea as a standard precaution, according to the Navy, and any personnel remaining on the island were sheltering in place. About 6,800 U.S. service members are assigned to Guam, according to the Pentagon.

With rain from the storm’s outer bands already falling over the island as of late morning local time, the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (225 kph) with gusts peaking at 170 mph (274 kph), said Landon Aydlett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Guam. Its center was about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of the island and was moving to the north-northwest.

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