Palau is dead still right now, with almost an eerie calmness. It belies the impending typhoon disaster that seems to be tracking its way directly for Palau. Any tropical cyclone approaching within 180 miles of Koror is considered a threat to Palau. The latest information has Typhoon Bopha approaching within 15 miles of Koror. In its steady approach, Typhoon Bopha is gaining strength and is expected to reach Palau late Sunday evening with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour and gusts up to 155 miles per hour. This will be the most powerful storm Palau has experienced since before 1941.
Typhoon Bopha is projected to land in mid-Babeldoab with major impact to Palau’s city center Koror. Some businesses and households are beginning to prepare; however, there seems to be a general sense of disbelief that the storm is coming and how powerful it will be when it arrives. Driving through the downtown city center only three or four businesses have boarded up their windows. Some locals have explained that “it always turns north” representing a general distrust in the meterological predictions for Typhoon Bopha.
Palau is an island nation with no building codes. A large majority of homes are built with wood frames and tin roofs. The potential for wide spread destruction is unfathomable. Residents of Palau’s northern state of Kayangel, a low lying atoll, have refused to evacuate and the government is not imposing a mandatory evacuation. The last large storm to hit Palau was Typhoon Marie in 1976 with peak gusts of of 86 mph. However, no severe storm has has ever been recorded as effecting Palau. Typhoon Sally had recorded winds of only 89 miles in 1967. Typhoon Sally in 1967 caused wide spread destruction.