Storm Hits Guam with 120 MPH Gusts
AGANA, Guam (AP) _ Guam has weathered its sixth typhoon in three months, with the eye of Typhoon Gay passing over the island, but early reports indicated that damage was not as bad as expected.
The typhoon overran the U.S. territory this morning with wind blowing at 70 mph to 120 mph. It cut electrical and water service and knocked down some homes that had been rebuilt since Typhoon Omar lashed the island Aug. 28. Omar caused $500 million damage.
No storm-related injuries were reported, said Civil Defense spokesman Carl Gumataotao.
Official damage assessment was just beginning Monday afternoon, while 4,266 people remained in 16 shelters, Gumataoao said. He estimated it would take a few days to restore electric and water service.
The eye of the storm passed directly over the capital city of Agana. ″It got dead still and really sunny,″ said Dana Williams, assistant city editor at the Pacific Daily News.
Williams said most things likely to blow down had already been destroyed by Omar or other recent typhoons.
Mayors in the southeastern section of the island told the newspaper that some homes built since Omar were blown down.
Gay’s winds tore barges loose from the moorings in Apra Harbor, said Navy Lt. Dave Wray. ″It certainly didn’t turn out as bad as it could have,″ he said.
The storm also tore off canvas covers that had been draped over houses whose roofs were blown away by Omar.
Guam’s 139,000 residents had been told to expect sustained wind of 140 mph and gusts to 165 mph.
The forecast was inaccurate because the typhoon’s most powerful wind passed to the north of Guam, said Navy Chief Charles Casperson of the U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Agana.
The Northern Mariana Islands, located just to the north of Guam, also escaped the brunt of the storm. Rota had 50 mph wind and gusts to 65 mph, while maximum sustained wind on Saipan and Tinian reached only 30 mph to 40 mph, Casperson said.
As of 4 p.m. today (2 a.m. EST), Gay was located 105 miles west of Guam, moving to the west at 18 mph. It had maximum sustained wind of 115 mph with gusts to 145 mph.
Omar, which had sustained wind of 120 mph and gusts to 150 mph, was followed a week later by Typhoon Ryan, which veered away from the islands. Typhoon Brian on Oct. 21 passed over Guam, and the island was brushed by Typhoon Elsie on Nov. 3. Last Wednesday, Typhoon Hunt passed nearby.
A typhoon is the same type of storm as a hurricane; the different name is used west of the international date line.