San Francisco Chronicle
Guam takes stock of toll after strike by powerful typhoon
Powerful Typhoon Mawar smashed the U. S. territory of Guam and continued lashing the Pacific island with high winds and heavy rain Thursday, knocking down trees, walls and power lines and creating a powerful storm surge that threatened to wash out low- lying areas.
The typhoon, the strongest to hit the territory of roughly 150,000 people since 2002, briefly made landfall Wednesday night as a Category 4 storm at Andersen Air Force Base on the northern tip of the island, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Doll.
The storm strengthened to150 mph winds the following morning, regaining its status as a super typhoon, according to the weather service. Mawar was forecast to intensify further.
As it churned slowly over the island, the typhoon flipped cars and ripped branches from trees. At what felt like its peak intensity Wednesday night, the winds screeched and howled and rainwater rushed into some homes.
Videos showed fallen trees, an overturned pickup, solar panels flying through the air, parts of a hotel's exterior wall crumbling to the ground and exposing rebar, and storm surge and waves crashing through coastal reefs.
The early scope of the damage was difficult to ascertain, with power and internet failures making communication with the far- flung island difficult. The governor and lieutenant governor were making their way after daylight arrived to assess the damage, weather service meteorologist Landon Aydlett.
“It looks like toothpicks,” Aydlett said. “It looks like a scene from the move ‘ Twister,' with things just thrashed apart. Lots of Guam is dealing with a major mess that's going to take weeks to clean up.”
J. Asprer, a police officer in the Dededo precinct, said before dawn that he had not received any reports of injuries.
The Navy ordered the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group to head to the island to assist in the recovery effort, according to a U. S. official.
The weather service said the storm made landfall at around 9 p. m. Wednesday in Guam, about 3,800 miles west of Hawaii and 1,600 miles east of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
By early Thursday, Mawar was centered 75 miles northwest of the island and 85 mileswest of Rota, Guam's neighbor to the north, moving west- northwest at 8 mph.
Tinian and Saipan, in the Northern Marianas, were under tropical storm warnings.
Mawar, a Malaysian word that means “rose,” might threaten Taiwan next week.
Guam is a crucial hub for U.S. forces in the Pacific, and the Department of Defense controls about a third of the island.