What is a “dry typhoon”?

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Dear Tom,
I traveled to Guam numerous times in the ’90s while in the U.S. Air Force. It was always lush and green, and then one time I came through and everything was dead-looking and leaves were falling off the trees. They said a “dry typhoon” had come through. What happened?
— Stephen Melonides, Chicago

Dear Stephen,
The storm was Typhoon Gay that struck Guam in November 1992. It hit the island with 100 mph winds, knocking out power and damaging some structures. However, the storm was in a weakening stage and produced a minimal amount of rainfall with storm totals of less than 4 inches, prompting the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to label it a “dry typhoon.” The combination of strong winds and little rainfall allowed undiluted saltwater spray to devastate the island’s vegetation, coating it with a salt rime that caused most plants to lose leaves or turn brown within days after the storm hit.

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