December 1997

Two B.I.G. Booths Stand Firm in 220 MPH Super Typhoon

December 17, 1997: Super Typhoon Paka moved through Guam and the Marshall Islands during mid-December of 1997. 

A typhoon watch was issued by the NWSFO, Guam, at 2300 UTC 14 December for the Marshall Islands when Paka was over 1200 km (650 nm) east-southeast of Guam. The watch was upgraded to a typhoon warning for Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan at 1530 UTC 15 December [at the same time that Paka was upgraded to a super typhoon with sustained winds of 72 m s-1 (140 kt)]. During its closest approach to Guam, the typhoon intensified to 220 mph.

Despite the loss of all official wind recording equipment on the northern portion of Guam (one amateur wind record was available throughout the event), wind fields were produced for Super Typhoon Paka's passage over the island. This was made possible by the use of GBVTD to produce wind fields based on the Guam WSR-88D Level IV VD's prior to the loss of power at the radar. 

The duration of typhoon force winds was greater than 8 h across some populated regions (> 7 h over most of the northern two-thirds of the island). This long period of strong winds and the wind direction shifts (> 180o) that occurred as the typhoon's eyewall moved over the island likely contributed to much of the observed damage. 

Two B.I.G. steel booths stood in the pathway of Super Typhoon Paka. Though wooden structures around the booths were flattened, the booths, including their glass windows, were intact after the 220 mph winds passed over.