HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A typhoon was expected to pass south of Guam, but residents were still preparing for the possibility of changes in the storm’s trajectory and destructive winds.
The Pacific U.S. territory remained under a tropical storm warning Saturday with Typhoon Wutip 210 miles (338 kilometers) south of Guam and packing maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (193 kph).
Wutip was expected to continue on a northwest to west-northwest track Saturday as it continues to slowly weaken. The closest it will get to Guam is expected to be about 195 miles (314 kilometers) southwest Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
Officials reminded residents that the typhoon’s path could change and there’s still a degree of uncertainty. With the current track, winds of 35 mph (56 kph) to 45 mph (72 kph) were expected through the weekend. As Wutip passes, there could be 6 inches (15 centimeters) to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain.
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“The talk right now is it seems we might be OK, but we’ve experienced from the past that it’s better to be prepared and safe than sorry,” said Vicky Borja, 53, who was planning to close her typhoon shutters and secure loose items outside her home. “I think we’ve had typhoons in the past where it didn’t seem it would be too much of a concern, and then things changed. So it’s really up to mother nature.”
She filled two 5-gallon (19-liter) jugs at a water filtration facility at a strip mall in Tamuning on Friday.
The peak season for typhoons in the region is late summer into fall, but strong storms in the winter are not uncommon. It’s somewhat unusual, but not outside the realm of expectation, said meteorologist Tom Birchard of the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
Tropical storm warnings were also in effect for Rota in the Mariana Islands and for Faraulep in Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. A tropical storm watch was in effect for other Northern Mariana islands.
Shelters in Guam were open for those whose homes aren’t made to withstand fierce winds.
Hernalin Analista stocked up on bottled water and canned food for her family to ride out the storm.
“I think when they’ve mentioned that it’s not going to be like a real direct hit, of course things could change and anything can happen. I think the expectation is that it will just simply be tropical storm winds that will possibly come our way,” she said. “I think that kind of provided some relief. However, we’re gonna prepare nonetheless.”
Kelleher reported from Honolulu.