Violent Typhoon Mawar sets sights on Philippines, Taiwan and Japan after blow to Guam
The powerhouse typhoon is the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane as it approaches the northernmost island of the Philippines before turning to the north, continuing its damaging path.
This time-lapse video from May 24-25 captures Typhoon Mawar’s high winds blasting through the U.S. territory of Guam from Tumon Bay.
Violent Typhoon Mawar, which pounded Guam with destructive winds and flooding downpours earlier this week, is continuing to churn west across the Pacific Ocean and will impact more landmasses in the western Pacific and eastern Asia this week, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
Mawar already achieved the status of strongest tropical cyclone on the planet so far this year, and it will remain a powerful storm as it aims for portions of the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan through Sunday, with more flooding rainfall and strong winds expected.
Typhoon Mawar is seen on AccuWeather Enhanced RealVue™ satellite May 28, 2023.
As of Sunday afternoon, local time, Mawar was centered across the central Philippine Sea, packing winds equivalent to that of a low-end Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale (maximum sustained winds of 96-110 mph, or 154-177 km/h), according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), which monitors and tracks tropical cyclones in this portion of the western Pacific tropical basin.
Mawar peaked at the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane (maximum sustained winds of at least 157 mph, or 252 km/h) on Friday after passing by Guam.
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"Mawar is forecast to maintain intensity as it continues to track to the west-north west across the Philippine Sea this weekend," said AccuWeather Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls.
The Philippine Sea is a marginal sea located within the western Pacific Ocean, bounded by the Philippines to the west and the Mariana Trench to the east.
"The typhoon is expected to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to northern Luzon in the Philippines from later Sunday through Tuesday, local time," said Nicholls.
While the center of the typhoon is expected to remain to the north of Luzon when it approaches early this week, there will still be impacts, and AccuWeather meteorologists warn that the storm is likely to be the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane around then.
"The amount of rain that falls and the strength of the wind in the Philippines will depend on how close the storm gets before making an expected turn to the north," added Nicholls. Despite that uncertainty, even the outer rain bands of a tropical system like Mawar can bring flooding downpours and damaging wind gusts.
As Mawar approached the Philippines, the country's weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), began officially monitoring the typhoon as of early Saturday morning, local time. At that point, the typhoon gained the designation of 'Betty' in the Philippines.
Ahead of the expected impacts this weekend, officials in the Philippines are preparing. Sea trips around the archipelago nation are being suspended, an official with the Philippine Ports Authority told CNN. Additionally, operators of smaller boats are being warned against fishing and sailing in the waters off the coast.
After Mawar impacts the Philippines this week, AccuWeather forecasters expect the typhoon to take aim at portions of Japan and Taiwan as it begins to slow in forward speed and turn to the north.
"Despite an expected loss in wind intensity as the typhoon churns to the north, Japan's Ryukyu Islands and eastern Taiwan could also endure impacts during the middle and latter portion of the week," said Nicholls. "Eventually, the southern Japan mainland could endure impacts by next weekend."
Mawar has already caused substantial damage
Mawar has already carved a powerful and destructive path since it was first designated as a tropical system over the open waters of the Pacific back on May 19. Just two days later, it became the first typhoon of the 2023 season and the strongest storm the planet has seen so far this year less than a week later.
Although typhoons regularly impact Guam, Mawar has since achieved a strength, both in wind intensity and minimum central pressure, not seen in the tropical basin as a whole since deadly Typhoon Surigae in 2021 or in that specific part of the basin near Guam since Typhoon Damrey in 2000.
When it impacted Guam on Wednesday, the typhoon unleashed strong winds of over 140 mph (225 km/h) snapped trees, ripped roofs off of buildings and brought more than 2 feet of rain in just hours.
"We're looking out our door and what used to be a jungle looks like toothpicks, like a scene from the movie 'Twister,' with trees just thrashed apart," Landon Aydlett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Guam, told The Associated Press.
While damage and power outages were widespread, the AP reported that there were no fatalities and only minor injuries as Mawar moved through.
President Biden approved a disaster declaration for the island late Thursday, which will allow federal funding to flow to the United States territory to aid in the recovery effort in the coming days and months.
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