The Western Pacific island of Guam experienced the most powerful typhoon in years as it was struck by Super Typhoon Mawar. The typhoon brought with it devastating wind gusts of up to 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour) and heavy rainfall. Despite the intensity of the storm, early reports following daybreak on Thursday indicated no deaths or serious injuries, although information was slow to emerge due to widespread power outages affecting the majority of the island’s 52,000 homes and businesses.
The eye of the typhoon passed just north of Guam, moving at a sluggish pace of 8 mph (13 kph) in a northwest direction. The US National Weather Service reported rainfall rates of up to 2 inches (5 cm) per hour overnight. Images shared on social media depicted dark clouds looming over beaches, buildings being lashed by rain, and palm trees bending under the force of the wind.
With wind speeds placing the storm in Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, just shy of Category 5, the danger remained even as the typhoon began to move away from Guam. The island, home to approximately 170,000 people, including 10,000 US military personnel, was cautioned about the intensifying wind field within the outer bands of the storm.
Guam residents, accustomed to the threat of typhoons, sought refuge in reinforced concrete structures. Governor Lou Leon Guerrero assured the public of updates on the situation once officials could safely assess the damage. She compared the current typhoon to the devastating Typhoon Karen of 1962, which caused significant destruction on the island.
In response to the emergency, the US Navy dispatched ships to Guam to assist with recovery efforts if necessary. President Joe Biden had been briefed on the situation and authorized federal assistance through an emergency declaration. The White House remained in close contact with the government of Guam, offering support during this tragic and challenging event.
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