Weather experts and emergency services personnel are warning those who live on Guam and the Mariana Islands to brace for the arrival of Tropical Storm Bolaven, which is expected to pass through the area Tuesday and Wednesday.
The storm began approaching early Tuesday with maximum winds measuring at about 65 mph, the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Guam office posted on X, formerly Twitter, shortly before 2 a.m. At the time, weather experts predicted the storm would intensify into a typhoon, meaning the wind speeds could increase to 74 mph or higher.
A few hours later, the NWS said Bolaven was continuing its approach. The storm is expected to strengthen into a typhoon as it travels north of Guam and passes between Rota and Tinian, forecast to forge this path later Tuesday and into Wednesday.
Preparations for Bolaven began days before its arrival. Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero declared a state of emergency, while Arnold Palacios, governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, declared a Typhoon Condition I for Tinian, Rota and Saipan. Emergency shelters were open for residents in need on Tuesday.
The White House also issued emergency declarations for both.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urged residents to keep track of local weather alerts and be prepared for the mobilization of emergency plans. Bolaven “is forecast to cause dangerous storm surges,” the agency said on X. “Monitor directions from local officials and if you are told to evacuate, leave immediately.”
The U.S. Coast Guard made on- and off-land preparations for the storm, moving some vessels out to sea to avoid the worst of the weather and keeping others tightly secured to brave the winds.
Tropical Storm Bolaven’s arrival comes about four months after Typhoon Mawar inflicted significant damage to the area. In addition to power outages and damaged water systems, Guam’s business sector estimated that the late-May storm caused about $111.7 million in building, equipment and merchandise damages.
There is concern that this approaching storm could cause additional damage. More than 200 FEMA employees were already on Guam ahead of Bolaven’s arrival to help with the ongoing Mawar response. The agency said in a Sunday news release that it sent 175 additional workers to the area for Bolaven preparedness.
In a Monday post on Facebook, Guerrero said there has been “swift action” on Guam to prepare for the new storm.
“Multiple government agencies around the island, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have been working hard to secure any potential debris that could cause damage during severe weather,” Guerrero wrote, adding praise for the local and federal officials who assisted. “Our primary focus is ensuring the safety and preparedness of all residents, and we are pleased to see the proactive measures taken by the island in response to the impending storm.”
Newsweek reached out to FEMA Region 9, which oversees Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, via email on Monday for comment.