Super Typhoon Mawar Heads For US Territory With Deadly Winds

(CNN) — Super Typhoon Mawar is heading towards Guam on Tuesday, threatening to hit the US territory as the strongest cyclone in more than 60 years.

The typhoon, which has strengthened rapidly in recent days, poses a “triple threat” of devastation, with deadly winds equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, exceptional storm surge and torrential rains, according to the National Weather Service office. in Guam.

Mawar has been described as “one that will be remembered for decades,” said Landon Aydlett, warning coordinator meteorologist for the weather service on Guam. It is expected to strike the island, and possibly make direct landfall, this Wednesday afternoon local time (around or just after midnight Wednesday ET).

If the typhoon made direct landfall, the island would be hit by the strongest possible winds and storm surge.

Although Guam is located in the western Pacific Ocean, an area prone to the world’s strongest tropical cyclones, a direct hit from a cyclone of this strength is extremely rare, only occurring about eight times in the past 75 years. The island is a mere 50 kilometers long, so the center of a storm moving over it would be like threading a tiny needle.

Forecasters warn that Mawar could strengthen further on Tuesday, potentially reaching the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, with winds exceeding 252 kilometers per hour, before making landfall. If this were to occur, Mawar would be the fifth Category 5-equivalent cyclone on the planet to date this year, the average number for an entire calendar year, and hurricane and typhoon seasons are just beginning.

It would also be the strongest cyclone to hit Guam directly since Super Typhoon Karen in 1962, which is considered the worst storm to hit the island, with sustained winds of 170 mph.

cyclone typhoon mawar guam

Super Typhoon Mawar threatens to directly hit the US territory of Guam. Credit: CNN Weather

Human-induced climate change favors the appearance of more intense storms such as Super Typhoon Mawar. These systems not only generate more precipitation and storm surge, but are also likely to be stronger and intensify more quickly.

Mawar underwent rapid intensification between Monday and Tuesday, with maximum winds increasing to 80 km/h in just 18 hours. Scientists warn that rapid intensification of tropical cyclones, such as typhoons and hurricanes, is more likely as ocean temperatures rise, setting the stage for cyclones to grow at breakneck rates and become deadly storms. .

According to the forecasts, if the winds reach Category 5, buildings that are not reinforced with concrete are likely to suffer considerable damage, significant damage to roofs, and strong winds to generate projectiles that are thrown.

“Power and water may not be available for days and perhaps weeks after the storm passes” and “most trees will snap or be uprooted,” the Guam weather service warned. Up to 70% of the island’s foliage could be uprooted by Mawar’s powerful winds.

An exceptional storm surge of up to 7.6 meters will pose a significant risk to life and property on the island, especially in the most vulnerable coastal areas close to the typhoon’s eyewall.

According to the National Weather Service, storm surge is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States. This level of storm surge will likely cause severe coastal erosion and “large vessels could be torn from their moorings,” according to the weather service.

In addition to coastal flooding from storm surge, flash flooding is possible as the storm is forecast to drop between 10 and 15 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts of up to 20 inches.

A flood alert is currently in place for the entire area, as the intensity of the rain will increase as the cyclone approaches. The weather service warned that “heavier precipitation” is possible if the typhoon slows its forward speed.

Landslides are also likely to occur as the ground becomes saturated and the mountainous terrain becomes unstable.

–CNN’s Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

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