Typhoon 08W (Ma-on), # 6
Published: July 13, 2011
Midnight Wednesday, July 13, Japan time: Ma-on has intensified into just the second typhoon of the 2011 northwest Pacific’s tropical cyclone season.
About 655 miles east-southeast of Iwo Jima at midnight Wednesday, Ma-on was moving west-northwest at 12½ mph, packing sustained 75-mph winds and 92-mph gusts at its center, equal to a Category I hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Guam National Weather Service reports that tropical storm-force winds extend 105 miles from Ma-on’s center.
Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts still call for Ma-on to miss Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to the north by 455 miles around 6 p.m. Thursday, and Iwo Jima to the south by some 250 miles, further south than initially forecast, around 1 a.m. Saturday.
A tropical storm watch was issued earlier Wednesday for sparsely populated Alamagan and Agrihan islands and unpopulated Pagan island in the Northern Marianas. Tropical storm-force winds of 40-mph and greater are possible within 48 hours, according to National Weather Service Guam.
Uncertainty remains over which way Ma-on will proceed as it approaches southern Japan and the Ryukyu and Amami islands at the close of this weekend.
JTWC forecasts Ma-on to rumble some 320 miles east-northeast of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, by 9 p.m. Monday, at which point it’s forecast to be packing 115-mph sustained winds and 144-mph gusts, sitting somewhere between a Category III and Category IV-equivalent hurricane.
What winds Okinawa might experience remains up to which way Ma-on moves, but JTWC’s latest prognostic reasoning states that the “tremendous scale of the storm will still impact Okinawa” in some manner. Some computer forecast models project Ma-on to slam into southeastern Kyushu island packing 115-mph winds; others say Ma-on will curve sharply to the northeast and skim the Kanto region; one other forecasts Ma-on to continue west as a straight-runner into the Asian mainland.
Next update will be about noon Thursday. PST will keep a sharp lookout.