Typhoon Mawar tore through the United States Pacific territory of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Mawar then approached Japan, weakening to tropical storm strength from its earlier super typhoon status.
The drastic weather event left much of the island of Guam, around 150,000 people, without power. The Northern Mariana Islands were also impacted, to a lesser degree, by the typhoon. Most of the tropical winds and rain passed through on the island of Rota, which saw “a day or two of power outages,” according to Brandon Bukunt of the National Weather Service.
Bukunut suggests, however, that there were never any real flooding concerns on Rota. They did get some strong winds, if not a brief bout of baseline typhoon conditions, but the main impacts were on Guam.
“Guam took the brunt of the impacts,” says Bukunut. “There’s still a good portion of the island that’s without power and water. Most people saw some sort of flooding, and a lot of that flooding often comes through the windows and doors.”
Parts of Guam still without water and power include the central and northern regions of the island. The last time the islands saw a storm of this magnitude was Typhoon Pongsona on December 8, 2002. When Pongsona passed through Guam and the CNMI at peak intensity, it left the entire island of Guam without power and destroyed about 1,300 houses, also leaving extreme damage on Rota and elsewhere.
With Mawar, on the other hand, we saw a reshaping of the shoreline, particularly on the western side of Guam.
“Nothing too profound, but the steady wave action and higher water levels definitely tuned into the normal coastal shoreline,” said Bukunut.
A bunch of coral rubble was thrown up on parts of the coastal roads, although Bukunut says that’s largely been cleared out. Vegetation and mostly palm trees that anchored that initial coastal shoreline has fallen into the water as well.
Natural disasters of any kind in the Pacific region greatly increase the risk of tsunamis to low-lying island communities and coastal areas while also disrupting the lives of residents.“This storm just takes another bite into the zone interfaced between the ocean and properties,” says Bukunut. “It’s just kind of pushing things into the point that it could be a concern for the next storm.”