Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon around 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon around 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Joint Typhoon Warning Center)

The governor of Guam ordered residents in low-lying areas to evacuate Tuesday as Super Typhoon Mawar barreled toward the island.

Islanders were advised by emergency authorities to seek immediate shelter, with damages expected overnight Tuesday and peak typhoon winds expected Wednesday.

“Super Typhoon Mawar is expected to make a direct hit or very near passage for Guam,” the island’s Joint Information Center said in a 6:30 p.m. bulletin. “There is a potential of a catastrophic and devastating event for Guam. Typhoon force winds are expected Wednesday morning, with peak conditions around midday.”

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Joint Region Marianas, the military installation management command on Guam, set Condition of Readiness 1 around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Current forecasts are not favorable to our island — which we have been carefully tracking and preparing for,” Leon Guerrero told residents in a video message.

The storm is predicted to pass almost directly over the capital, Hagatna, and Naval Base Guam, 15 miles southwest of Andersen Air Force Base, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“This is a very serious situation with steadily deteriorating conditions,” the bulletin said.

Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon around 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon around 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Joint Typhoon Warning Center)

Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon around 5 p.m. Tuesday with sustained winds of 155 mph and 195 mph gusts, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning System. The island is braced for 161 mph sustained winds with 196 mph gusts early Wednesday morning.

Leon Guerrero ordered anyone in “low-lying, flood-prone and coast areas” to evacuate and mobilized the Guam National Guard to assist with the efforts. She urged people to stay calm, remain informed and act immediately.

“My greatest concern and worry is your safety,” she said in the video posted on her office’s YouTube channel. “We must act now to ensure the protection of our people and your safety.”

The naval base, Andersen and the Marine Corps’ Camp Blaz urged U.S. service members to seek shelter throughout the day on Tuesday.

Navy ships were sent away from the island as a standard precautionary measure, according to naval base spokeswoman Valerie Maigue, who said the installation has been preparing for Mawar for several days.

“We’ve been tracking this storm since late last week, and we’ve notified our families well in advance,” she told Stars and Stripes by phone Tuesday.

The base notified service members Tuesday afternoon that anyone affected by the evacuation order could contact the command duty officer for shelter and temporary housing by calling (671) 488-7147.

“Personnel who intend to evacuate to [Naval Base Guam] temporary housing or any other private residence, should contact their immediate supervisor or their respective Command Duty Officers to provide their whereabouts and contact information,” states a post on the base’s official Facebook page.

All aircraft at Andersen have either departed or are sheltered in hangars, base spokeswoman Capt. Katie Mueller told Stars and Stripes by text message Tuesday evening. The base advised everyone to follow the governor’s order and remain indoors.

Mawar could potentially be the strongest storm to lash Guam since Super Typhoon Pongsona passed the island in December 2002 with gusts of 173 mph.

A Category 5 storm brings “catastrophic damage” and may collapse walls and roofs, cause long-lasting power outages and render much of the affected area uninhabitable for weeks or months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Check Stars and Stripes’ Pacific Storm Tracker for frequent updates on Mawar.

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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.

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