Two factors make it important for Guam residents to keep themselves in a constant state of readiness where tropical cyclones are concerned:
- Tropical storms and typhoons can affect Guam any time of year, although they’re most likely from late June through December.
- In the days just before a storm is likely to hit, supplies can get low quickly, so if you keep your emergency store stocked throughout the year, you’re more likely to have what you need, when you need it.
Your best tool for staying informed and prepared when it comes to storms are Guam’s Conditions of Readiness, which you will hear referred to as TCOR (Typhoon Condition of Readiness) or TCCOR (Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness). In this article, we’ll walk you through what kind of storms might affect Guam, as well as how to understand the Conditions of Readiness so you and your family are prepared for weather that might affect the island.
First, let’s get clear on the terms that you’ll hear when talking about the weather that might impact Guam.
A Few Key Weather Terms You Need to Know
To ensure that you understand all the terminology that reporters, media, and government sources might use when discussing impending storms, let’s run through some of the common definitions.
Typhoon Season: Although most consider the peak of typhoon season to be late August through mid-November, Guam could be affected by a storm at any time during the season. Additionally, several significant storms have hit the island outside of the heart of typical “typhoon season,” including Super-Typhoon Pamela (May 1976) Supertyphoon Pongsona (Dec 2002). Finally, it’s worth noting that the 2019 Pacific typhoon season was a particularly active one with 29 named storms, 17 typhoons, and four supertyphoons.
Tropical Cyclone: NOAA defines a tropical cyclone as any rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and features closed, low-level circulation. In the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific, these storms are called hurricanes. In the Northwest Pacific, they’re called typhoons.
When it comes to tropical cyclones that might affect Guam, you’ll likely see one of these four terms used:
- Tropical depression: A storm with sustained winds of up to 38 mph.
- Tropical storm: A storm with sustained winds of 39 mph to 73 mph.
- Typhoon: A storm with sustained winds of 74 mph to 149 mph.
- Supertyphoon: A storm with sustained winds of 150 mph or more.
Now that you understand the vocabulary you’ll hear in the weather forecast, let’s discuss the accompanying Conditions of Readiness that will help you prepare for a potential impending storm.
Exploring Guam’s 4 Conditions of Readiness
Guam’s Condition of Readiness system will help you understand two key things:
- How far away a potential storm is from the island and
- How prepared you and your family should be at any given time.
Below, we’ll lay out what each condition means, as well as offer some suggestions for levels of preparedness.
As always, though, make sure to do your own due diligence to put together a storm preparedness plan. The Guam Homeland Security website has plenty of typhoon preparedness information to help you get started.
TCOR 4 / TCCOR 4: Condition of Readiness 4
72 Hours Until Destructive Winds Could Potentially Arrive on Guam
Because of its position in “typhoon alley”—an area in the Pacific where many powerful storms form—Guam stays in this Condition of Readiness year-round since destructive winds are always possible within 72 hours.
Even when there’s no specific threat of a storm, it’s a good idea to check your emergency stores periodically, which should include things like:
- Non-perishable food supplies
- Drinking water
- Flashlights, with several sets of replacement batteries
- A portable radio to get updates even when the power goes out
- Essential supplies for any kids in your household, such as diapers
- Extra pet food
TCOR 3 / TCCOR 3: Condition of Readiness 3
48 Hours Until Destructive Winds Could Potentially Arrive on Guam
When a storm comes within 48 hours of the island, it’s time to start preparing the outside of your house. Anything that might get blown around by storm winds should be put away or secured. This is also a good time to:
- Stock up on some extra food and water, if you haven’t already.
- Fill your cars and generators with gasoline.
- Make sure you have some cash on hand in case power loss disables ATMs and credit card machines.
- Talk to your family to make sure everyone understands what’s going on and what your plan will be if the storm comes closer.
TCOR 2 / TCCOR 2: Condition of Readiness 2
24 Hours Until Destructive Winds Are Anticipated to Arrive
When Condition of Readiness 2 is announced, it’s time to finish up your last-minute preparations by securing everything outdoors. Make sure your vehicles are in a safe location, as far away as possible from anything that might fall on them during the storm. You should also make sure your emergency food, water, and other supplies are secured in a place that will be easy to access if you need them. If you’re unsure whether your location will be suitable for riding out the storm, you also may want to consider emergency shelter at this time. Finally, make sure you monitor weather updates carefully so you know what to expect as the storm moves closer.
TCOR 1 / TCCOR 1: Condition of Readiness 1
12 Hours Until Destructive Winds Are Anticipated to Arrive—or Already Occurring
This is the time to stay inside until the storm passes. If you’ve got your portable radio up and running, stay updated on the weather report and on any announcements from the government. Wait until you get the all-clear from emergency officials before heading outdoors. Make sure to be aware of things like downed power lines, orders to boil water before drinking, and potential bacteria level fluctuations at beaches.
Once the threat has passed, the island will return to Condition 4 until the next storm threat.
Stay Prepared, Stay Safe
Tropical cyclones are a fact of life when you’re living in the Northwestern Pacific. However, by understanding the Conditions of Readiness System, you can keep yourself and your family safe from the storms that may threaten the island.
Although we’ve offered some preparedness tips in this article, make sure to do your own research to come up with a complete plan to prepare yourself and your family. A couple of resources you might find helpful:
- Guam Homeland Security’s typhoon preparedness information.
- Ready.gov’s storm preparedness resources.
- Joint Marianas’ Go Guam disaster planning information.
As a transportation and logistics company critical in supporting Guam’s supply chain, DeWitt Guam is considered an essential business. As a result, we will continue to serve our customers until the island is placed into Condition of Readiness 2 and it is no longer safe to be on the roads. As we monitor the COR announcements closely, we’ll keep each one of customers abreast of the situation. We’ll also create and communicate a plan that we’ll share with customers so they know what to expect if we enter COR 2.
Once the storm passes and we receive the all-clear, our main focus will be getting back on schedule in order to help our customers get their shipments packed and loaded. Depending on the severity of the storm, it may take up to 24-72 hours before we can resume operations.
Our first priority will be to complete all unfinished pack-outs, followed by resuming our regular schedule. Then, as our next priority, we’ll begin to reschedule canceled jobs, which allows us to contain service interruptions more effectively.
To help you understand how this might work, think of the way airlines reschedule passengers on a canceled flight. Rather than bumping the next whole plane of passengers—and creating two full planes of disrupted schedules—the airline will reschedule passengers as quickly as possible on existing flights. We’ll do the same, and we’ll work hard to get everything—and everyone—back up and running as quickly as possible.
Finally, there are two other factors that may affect how we reschedule jobs:
- If there is damage from the storm—especially water damage to a home, business, or items that need to be packed and moved—we may need to reschedule these jobs for a future date.
- If roads or bridges are closed—or impassible due to a storm—we also may need to reschedule your job until we can safely access your business or home.
If you have any questions about our storm preparedness or potential delays due to storm activity, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Since we opened our doors in 1983, we’ve prepared for plenty of storms and assisted with many recovery efforts. We’d be happy to talk to you about our approach.