Guam is preparing itself to take a “direct hit” from Typhoon Mawar as it strengthens on a path across the Pacific.
Lou Leon Guerrero, governor of the US territory, has warned people to stay at home after the weather service warned the typhoon is likely to hit the southern part of the island around midday on Wednesday, local time.
“We may take a direct hit,” said Patrick Doll, lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “If we don’t take a direct hit, it’s going to be very close.”
He said Mawar, which is expected to arrive as a 140mph Category 4 typhoon, could cause “extensive damage”.
The governor said she would place Guam essentially in a lockdown effective from 1pm on Tuesday with rain from the storm’s outer bands starting to fall in the morning.
A storm surge of six to 10 feet above the normal high tide was expected which could reach up to 15 feet, the weather service said.
Officials warned residents who are not in fully concrete structures to consider moving for safety. Many homes are made of wood and tin.
“The triple threat of cat 4 typhoon force winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surge are all expected for Guam and Rota,” the weather service said on Tuesday.
Rota, an island in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, was also under a typhoon warning, with Tinian and Saipan in the northern Marianas under tropical storm warnings.
Some people in those areas are still in temporary shelters or tents after Category 5 Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018.
“Guam takes a Category 4 or 5 hit every five to seven years. Mother Nature has spared us as of late,” said Mr Doll, who added the last direct hit was in 2002. “We are way overdue.”