The term 'tropical' refers to both the geographic origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively in tropical regions of the globe, and their formation in maritime tropical air masses. The term 'cyclone' refers to such storms' cyclonic nature, with anticlockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on its location and intensity, a tropical cyclone can be referred to by names such as 'hurricane', 'typhoon', 'tropical storm', 'cyclonic storm', 'tropical depression', or simply 'cyclone'.
Typhoon Paka (international designation: 9728, JTWC designation: 05C, PAGASA designation: Rubing, also known as Super Typhoon Paka) was the last tropical cyclone in the 1997 Pacific hurricane and typhoon season, and was among the strongest Pacific typhoons in the month of December. Paka, which is the Hawaiian name for Pat, developed on November 28 in the central Pacific Ocean from a trough near the equator well to the southwest of Hawaii. After initially tracking northward, the storm turned to the west due to a strong high pressure area to its north, and on December 7 it crossed into the western Pacific Ocean. The cyclone intensified into a typhoon as it crossed the Marshall Islands on December 10, and continuing to intensify Paka struck Guam and Rota on December 16 with winds of 230 km/h (145 mph). The typhoon strengthened further and reached its peak intensity by December 18 over open waters. Subsequently it underwent a steady weakening trend, and on December 23 Paka dissipated.
Typhoon Paka first impacted the Marshall Islands, where it dropped heavy rainfall and resulted in $80 million in damage (1997 USD, $100 million 2007 USD). Later, it passed just north of Guam, where strong winds destroyed about 1,500 buildings and damaged 10,000 more; 5,000 people were left homeless, and the island experienced a complete power outage following the typhoon. Damage on the island totaled $500 million (1997 USD, $645 million 2007 USD), which warranted the retirement of its name. Paka also caused light damage in the Northern Marianas Islands. The typhoon resulted in no fatalities.