Tropical Depression 01W (Mekkhala), # 13 Final

Mekkhala was upgraded to typhoon status Saturday morning, Jan. 17, 2015, and is forecast to strike the central Philippines.

10:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, Philippines time: Mekkhala has been downgraded to a tropical depression, has already moved past forecast closest point of approach to Manila and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s latest forecast track takes it over central Luzon where it should presumably die out in the next day or so. JTWC projects Mekkhala to pass 105 miles northeast of Subic Bay Free Port at about 2 a.m. Monday and 68 miles north-northeast of Clark Free Economic Zone two hours later, packing sustained 29-mph winds and 40-mph gusts. Public Storm Warning Signal 2 remains in effect for locations in or near the storm’s projected path.


Tropical Storm 23W (Jangmi), # 5 FINAL: Exiting the Philippines

6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30, Philippines time:Philippines’ weather authority PAGASA has issued Public Storm Warning Signal 2 for the Cuyo and Palawan islands, in addition to Visayas, as Tropical Storm Jangmi continues its journey, now on a southwesterly course away from the country’s main islands. Winds between 40 and 60 mph and heavy to intense rain expected in those areas. PAGASA alerts those in low-lying and mountainous areas to flash flooding and landslides.

Jangmi is next forecast to brush past Puerto Princesa on Palawan Island about 10 miles to its southwest. Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts Jangmi to peak at 58-mph sustained winds and 75-mph gusts early Thursday afternoon, along a course that could take it over northwestern Malaysia near the southern Thailand border early Sunday afternoon.

Unless there’s a drastic change in the forecast, PST will take leave of Jangmi.

2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30, Philippines time: The Philippines’ weather authority PAGASA has lifted Public Storm Warning Signal 2 for northern Luzon and southern Mindanao islands. But it remains in effect in the Visayas, where winds between 40 and 60 mph and heavy to intense rain are anticipated in the next 24 hours as Tropical Storm Jangmi continues moving west toward the South China Sea.

Tropical Depression 23W, # 1: New system develops near Philippines

2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 28, Philippines time: Weather continues to play Grinch to the Philippines around the holiday period, as a new tropical cyclone, the 23rd numbered storm of the northwest Pacific season, spawned overnight Saturday.

It’s heading toward the northeast tip of the country’s southernmost Mindanao island, with landfall expected early Monday morning, packing sustained 40-mph winds and 52-mph gusts at its center.

Tropical Storm 22W (Hagupit), # 14: Hagupit exits Philippines

Super Typhoon Hagupit, seen near the Philippines in this false-color NOAA satellite image from Dec. 5, 2014, was forecast to pass near the former Clark Air Base and former Subic Bay Naval Station.

11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, Philippines time: Tropical Storm Hagupit has begun tracking southwest away from the west coast of the Philippines into the South China Sea. Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s latest forecast shows Hagupit packing 46-mph sustained winds and 58-mph gusts at its center, and it has passed closest point of approach to Metro Manila, Clark Free Economic Zone and Subic Bay Free Port.

At least 27 people were killed during Hagupit, 21 on eastern Samar Island alone, Philippine government and Red Cross officials told CNN and Reuters. Some 1,000 homes were destroyed, more than 1 million were evacuated from their homes, the storm downed trees and caused flooding in low-lying areas.

Okinawa reverts to TCCOR All Clear at midnight Nov. 30

Midnight Sunday, Nov. 30, Japan time: At midnight Sunday, U.S. bases on Okinawa entered Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness All Clear. That signals the end of the six-month window, June 1-Nov. 30, in which tropical cyclones are most likely to occur in the vicinity of Okinawa and other U.S. bases in the northwest Pacific. When northerly winds bring colder temperatures from up north and when sea-surface temperatures become too cool to support the development and sustainment of tropical cyclones.

That doesn’t signal the end of the season in parts further south of Okinawa. At this writing, a tropical disturbance is lurking about 295 miles southeast of Chu’uk in the Micronesian islands and is headed generally west-northwest. It’s one reason why Guam and other islands near what’s called the Intertropical Convergence Zone near the Equator remain in seasonal TCCOR 4 year-round. In fact, most of the more dangerous typhoons to hit Guam have occurred outside of that June 1-Nov. 30 timeframe: Typhoons Paka (December 1997), Pongsona (December 2002) and Pamela (May 1976), among others.

Even outside the June 1-Nov. 30 timeframe, PST will continue to watch for severe weather of all types.

Extratropical Storm 20W (Nuri), # 3: Alaska in for pounding

12:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 7, Alaska time: The northernmost state in the country could end up with its own version of Superstorm Sandy come the weekend.

The remnants of former Super Typhoon Nuri, now an extratropical cold-core low, is rapidly moving northeast through the Aleutian islands toward the Bering Sea, still packing sustained 50-mph winds and 70-mph gusts, according to several meteorological agency Web sites.

AccuWeather.com reports that Alaska could see hurricane-force winds, 45-foot seas and a storm surge for western Alaska, similar to what hit and devastated parts of Long Island when Sandy crashed ashore in October 2012. The National Weather Service is warning of gusts between 80 and 100 mph in the westernmost Aleutians late Friday into Saturday and peak waves along the west coast of Alaska could be well higher than 45 feet, The Washington Post reported.

Nuri could become the most powerful storm to impact the Bering Sea in terms of central air pressure, AccuWeather.com reported. The current record is 925 millibars from a storm that moved over the Bering Sea in October 1977. The lowest air pressure from any extratropical northern storm on record is 913 millibars, set in 1993 in the North Sea east of Scotland.


2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, Japan time: Nuri is still not forecast to threaten Okinawa, or any land mass, for that matter; Joint Typhoon Warning Center takes Nuri’s forecast track well east of Okinawa and south of the Kanto Plain through this week.

But if it reaches peak intensity as forecast by the JTWC, Nuri, already a super typhoon, could become the strongest storm ever recorded – even stronger than Haiyan which devastated the central Philippines last November.

JTWC projects Nuri to peak Monday evening at 196-mph sustained winds and 236-mph gusts, equivalent to a super-strong Category 5 hurricane. Though projections keep Nuri well away from land, PST has a sharp eye on it.

Super Typhoon 19W (Vongfong) by the numbers

3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, Japan time: Here’s the final Super Typhoon Vongfong damage report by the Okinawa prefecture government’s crisis management office as of Tuesday:

Two were killed, one remains missing, 26 people hurt, three suffering serious injuries.

Tropical Depression 02C (Ana), # 2

10:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, Hawaii time: With every passing update from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, it appears as if Tropical Storm Ana might pass about 185 miles south of Hilo about midnight Saturday, then about 130 miles south of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam some eight hours later as either a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane. All U.S. bases appear to be outside of Ana's 40-mph wind bands, according to JTWC's latest forecast track. PST is keeping an eye on it.

5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, Hawaii time: After not taking a hurricane for more than two decades, Hawaii could see a second one hit the islands just this year alone. Tropical Depression 02C spawned earlier Monday and is on course to strike the Big Island on Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane.This, just two months after Hurricane Iselle became the strongest hurricane ever recorded on the Big Island. Before 2014, the last hurricane to hit Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992. More later.

Typhoon safety: Stay away from shore

Stripes reported on Monday about an incident involving six airmen from Kadena Air Base who were trying to photograph the waves along Okinawa’s northwest coastline as Typhoon Phanfone passed by en route to the Japanese main islands. Four ended up in the drink. Only one made it back alive, one washed ashore unconscious and two others remained missing as of Monday afternoon.

PST over the years has repeatedly warned against U.S. personnel engaging in such behavior during tropical cyclones and other dangerous weather. Especially folks who are new to the island and hail from areas in the States where tropical cyclones are not prevalent.

Tropical Storm 19W (Vongfong), # 55 FINAL

Super Typhoon Vongfong is seen in this NOAA satellite image taken Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014.

2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, Japan time:Tropical Storm Vongfong has made its closest approach to Sasebo Naval Base and is on course to pass 97 miles southeast of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in a couple of hours, bringing 29- to 35-mph sustained winds and 40- to 46-mph gusts and between 2 to 3 inches of rain the rest of the day. Similar is expected at Kanto Plain bases tonight into Tuesday, with rapid clearing by the afternoon. All mainland bases remain in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Storm Watch. Barring any sudden changes, PST will (finally) check out regarding Vongfong.

11 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, Japan time: 18th Wing commanding officer has issued seasonal Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 4 for U.S. bases on Okinawa as of 10:30 p.m. Sunday.



Stay safe and informed


About the Author

Dave Ornauer has been with Stars and Stripes since March 5, 1981. One of his first assignments as a beat reporter in the old Japan News Bureau was “typhoon chaser,” a task which he resumed virtually full time since 2004, the year after his job, as a sports writer-photographer, moved to Okinawa and Ornauer with it.

As a typhoon reporter, Ornauer pores over Web sites managed by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center as well as U.S. government, military and local weather outlets for timely, topical information. Pacific Storm Tracker is designed to take the technical lingo published on those sites and simplify it for the average Stripes reader.