Super Typhoon 17W (Sanba), # 13
Published: September 13, 2012
12:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, Japan time: The bad news: I have never, in all my years of following tropical cyclones, seen a storm this intense here in the Pacific. Super Typhoon Sanba is peaking in intensity at 155 knots, or 178.25 mph, today along with gusts near 220 mph (!!!) – a Category 5-equivalent typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson Scale – and will remain close to that for next day or so.
The really bad news: We’re looking at a direct or almost-direct hit on the south part of Okinawa come early Sunday morning. Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s forecast track has Sanba roaring 8 miles southwest of Kadena Air Base at 6 a.m. Sunday, at which point it will have weakened slightly but should still be packing Category 4-equivalent 144-mph sustained winds and 173-mph gusts at its center. The next Bart, perhaps.
Word of warning 1: If Sanba’s eye remains, it will likely pass over the south part of Okinawa in the half-light of early dawn on Sunday. If all of a sudden the sheets of rain and high winds cease and total calm takes over, DO NOT GO OUTSIDE! At any moment, the winds and rain could resume, in the opposite direction, just as fierce if not more so than before. There is not a more dangerous time to be outside than when a typhoon’s eye settles in.
The good news, if there is such a thing, is Sanba appears to be picking up forward speed and MAY pass through the Okinawa area relatively quickly. Okinawa remains in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3; expect that to change late Friday or early Saturday.
Word of warning 2: Assuming the worst and Okinawa gets pummeled by Sanba’s worst winds, we could be in for a very lengthy recovery period, several hours at least. At those wind speeds, thousands on and off base could be without power, some without water, whole trees, power lines, power poles and stoplights could be down. It is never a good idea to be outside during TCCOR 1-R (recovery) anyway; assessment teams are out in force at that point, checking for damage, flooding, etc.
Latest forecast wind timeline from Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight:
-- Sustained 35-mph winds or greater, 7 p.m. Saturday.
-- Sustained 40-mph winds or greater, 8 p.m. Saturday.
-- Sustained 58-mph winds or greater, midnight Saturday.
-- Maximum 138-mph winds and 167-mph gusts, 6 a.m. Sunday.
-- Winds diminishing below 58 mph, 11 a.m. Sunday.
-- Winds diminishing below 40 mph, 4 p.m. Sunday.
-- Winds diminishing below 35 mph, 7 p.m. Sunday.
Said this already, but can’t emphasize enough: Time to get your commissary, PX, ATM and gasoline stand on. Enough water, non-perishable food, pet food for your furry friends, diapers and sanitizer for the little ones and cash to last three days, at least, and fill the tank with gasoline.
For the folks in Korea: Sanba will remain a fairly powerful Category 2-equivalent storm as it crashes ashore on the southern coast around mid-day Monday. Pretty good chance that schools will be closed and many services will be shut down, as they were twice earlier this summer, only this storm should be more fierce. As with the folks on Okinawa, get on your shopping game and supply yourself up. If your homes are equipped with storm shutters, make sure they’re working and you can close them with relative ease. A can of WD-40 goes a long way toward ensuring that.
Sanba is forecast to shear apart and weaken rapidly, thanks to vertical wind shear and interaction with land, as it rumbles 47 miles west of Chinhae Naval Base and 74 miles west of Pusan at 5 p.m. Monday, 33 miles west of Daegu at 7 p.m., 75 miles east of Kunsan Air Base at 6 p.m., 72 miles east of Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base around 10 p.m. and 80 miles east of Yongsan Garrison and Camp Red Cloud around midnight. Sanba should then exit Korea near Kangnung into the Sea of Japan early Tuesday, still maintaining severe tropical storm-strength winds.
I can’t emphasize enough: Sanba is NO JOKE. This could be the next Bart; ask island longtimers what THAT was like. Prepare, prepare, prepare and prepare, in no particular order.