BY MORGAN LEGEL
As life using social distancing measures is starting to feel normal to most, and new cases on the island are decreasing, a new threat to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is nigh — in just a couple months the dry season will end, bringing the greater possibility of a tropical cyclone or typhoon.
William “Brandon” Aydlett, senior meteorologist for the National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office Guam told the Journal, “Because we are in the dry season, we see a much smaller likelihood of any tropical cyclones. It’s not impossible, but very much less likely.”
However, he said, the island starts transitioning into wet season around June, and that’s when the greatest risk for a tropical cyclone comes.
Jenna Blas, public information officer for Guam Homeland Security and the Office of Civil Defense said, in the event of inclement weather like a tropical cyclone, GHS and OCD will have to adapt their current operations, and follow the plans and protocols for emergency management on the island.
“With any sustained operations, our office will need to start looking towards potential increase in staff and capabilities to protect the agency and prevent burnout,” she said. “GHS and OCD are prepared to utilize the Guam Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and the Guam Catastrophic Typhoon Plan in the event of a typhoon, major storm or other natural disaster.”
Blas also said that even with the governor’s current executive order to stay at home, in an emergency, the community would still have access to emergency shelters.
“In the event of a typhoon or major storm to impact Guam,” she said, “The emergency shelter plans would still be utilized. With the use of congregate shelters, and the ongoing response to COVID-19, special considerations on the distancing of shelterees would be considered though.”
Aydlett said that with inclement weather, the NWS will continue to monitor the situation, through any outbreak. “We are 24/7, come rain or shine, devastating winds or not, we’re going to be here nonstop,” he said. “Being here on Guam, and with our families on Guam, we’re going to go through whatever happens and make sure the proper information goes out to the public.”
Both Aydlett and Blas said that the community needs to stay safe during a tropical cyclone, even with the pandemic continuing.
“For most people, we’re very fortunate to have those concrete structures,” Aydlett said. “The name of the game is shelter in place during typhoons. There is a significant number of people here on Guam that don’t have such strong and sturdy structures.”
Blas asked the public for their cooperation, and that for any COVID-19 related questions or concerns to call 311 from a local number or contact the Joint Information Center at (671) 478-0208/09/10. The JIC phone lines are operational Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. mbj