In late May 2023, a potent typhoon spun toward the Mariana Islands in the North Pacific Ocean, clipping the island of Guam with maximum sustained winds of about 138 mph (222 km/h), which is equivalent to a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The storm, named Super Typhoon Mawar, was the strongest storm to approach Guam since Typhoon Pongsona passed the U.S. territory carrying gusts of 173 mph (278 km/h) in December 2002, according to news reports.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this true-color image of Super Typhoon Mawar on May 24 as the center of the storm spun east of Guam, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands. The typhoon’s cloud bands completely covered the islands, which were already being lashed with powerful winds and heavy rain.
Super Typhoon Mawar maintained its Category 4 strength as the storm’s center traversed the Rota Channel, between the islands of Guam and Rota, at about 9 p.m. local time on May 24. The eye’s southern wall passed over much of Guam, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, and delivered the most extreme winds to the northern third of the island.
On May 25 (local time) the typhoon moved west-northwest and away from the islands. The full extent of storm damage in Guam remained unclear, but early reports indicated widespread power outages, downed trees, flooding of the international airport, and coastal flooding. According to a spokesman for the National Weather Service, the central and northern parts of the island received more than 2 feet (60 cm) of rain as the eyewall passed, and most of Guam received about a foot of rain during the storm. U.S. officials declared an emergency in the region on May 22, authorizing disaster relief efforts.
At 11:00 p.m. EDT on May 24 (1:00 p.m. May 25 in Guam), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) advised that Super Typhoon Mawar was located about 113 miles (180 km) west-northwest of Andersen Air Force Base in northern Guam. Maximum sustained winds at that time were calculated at 155 mph (249.4 km/h), with gusts as high as 190 mph (306 km/h). This is closely approaching a Category 5 storm, which begins when maximum sustained winds reach 157 mph (252 km/h).
It is expected that the storm will continue to intensify, likely reaching a peak maximum sustained wind speed of 166.9 mph (268 km/h) within 24 to 36 hours, according to the JTWC advisory. After that time, Mawar will begin to battle less favorable conditions and should begin to weaken as it heads towards the Philippines.