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Strongest February typhoon on record packs 180 mph gusts, sideswiping Guam

The United States was hit by a barrage of wild weather over the weekend. Tornadoes carved through the South, a blizzard buried the northern plains, and flash floods drenched the Tennessee Valley. But amid the busy weekend, the United States also was struck by something you might not be expecting this time of year: a typhoon.

The US territory of Guam was sideswiped by the beastly storm named Wutip on Saturday. It was whirling Monday morning about 300 miles west of the Mariana Islands with 150-mile-per-hour sustained winds coiled tightly around its foreboding eye. Early Monday it peaked at Category 5-equivalent strength, making it the strongest February typhoon on record.

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It’s also the longest-lived February typhoon on record and the first February super typhoon in more than a century.

The powerhouse storm is like an atmospheric whirlpool, vacuuming air up and out its center. The storm’s barometric pressure fell to 915 millibars — 27.02 inches — the air pressure if you climbed to the height of two Empire State buildings.

February typhoons are incredibly unusual. The last such storm to skirt Guam was Irma in 1953. That one dropped 7.88 inches of rain in 24 hours. The island dodged a bullet again this time, as the Guam Daily Post reports that no serious damage or injury occurred.

ASSOCIATED PRESS