Tropical Storm Mawar has rapidly strengthened in the Pacific and is expected to become a powerful typhoon, threatening to bring high winds and possible flooding to the Mariana Islands, including Guam, the National Weather Service said.
The storm, which formed early Sunday morning local time and was slowly moving north, could hit Guam, a U.S. territory, as early as Tuesday, said Brandon Bukunt, meteorologist with the Weather Service.
“We may have to issue typhoon warnings, in which typhoon conditions are expected,” Bukunt said. “But at the moment, given the uncertainty, we have a typhoon watch, which means typhoon conditions are possible within two days.”
Tropical Storm Mawar had maximum sustained wind speeds of 60 miles per hour as of 5 p.m. local time Sunday when it was about 475 miles southeast of Guam, the weather service said.
For the storm to be classified as a typhoon, its wind speeds would have to be above 74 mph, Mr. Bukunt said. The weather service said the storm is expected to reach typhoon conditions later Sunday night.
As the storm approaches the islands, its winds “will pick up speed”, he said, and outer bands of rain could bring heavy downpours, increasing the risk of flooding, including in Guam, who Houses Andersen Air Force Base.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero of Guam and Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson placed the island and its military bases on high alert Saturday for possible damaging winds, according to a statement from the base.
The base added that “all military installations in Guam are currently securing facilities and housing residents are urged to begin weather preparedness efforts.”
Typhoons can form all year round but are more frequent from May to October.
Tropical Storm Mawar, a Malaysian name meaning “pink”, is the second named storm in the Western Pacific this season. The first one, Tropical Storm Sanvuquickly weakened in less than two days.