Tropical cyclone formation alert

8:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 30, Japan time: Wow, traffic appears to be picking up in Typhoon Alley. After more than a week of lurking as a tropical disturbance, first near Guam a week ago and off the coast of the Philippines for the past few days, an area of convection some 475 miles south-southeast of Okinawa is apparently taking on tropical cyclone characteristics.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued a tropical cyclone formation alert on this disturbance, which is moving north-northwest in Okinawa's general direction.

Much too early to determine where it will precisely go and how strong it may be, as it is with any tropical cyclone in its infancy. But Kadena Air Base's 18th Wing Weather Flight's extended forecast, provided by its newly launched Shogunweather.com website, indicates very wet and windy weather over the next few days for Okinawa.

  • Wednesday: Sustained 23- to 40-mph winds with 46- to 57-mph gusts, moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.
  • Thursday: 36-mph sustained winds and 48-mph gusts, rain showers and numerous thunderstorms.
  • Friday: 36- to 38-mph sustained winds and 48-mph gusts, rain showers and numerous thunderstorms.
  • Saturday: 32-mph sustained winds and 35-mph gusts, rain showers and scattered thunderstorms.

PST will keep an eyeball on things.

Tropical Storm 11W (Halong), # 14: Guam resumes COR 4

Tropical Storm Halong is seen July 29, 2014, in a false-color satellite image.

8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, Guam time: National Weather Service has issued seasonal Condition of Readiness 4 for Guam.

7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, Guam time: The typhoon watch for the island of Rota and the tropical storm watch for Guam have each been canceled by the National Weather Service, with Tropical Storm Halong moving west-northwest away from the Marianas.

Typhoon 10W (Matmo), # 6 FINAL

Tropical Storm 10W.

11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 22, China time:Typhoon Matmo has continued tracking steadily northwest over the past couple of days, and model guidance agrees it should track over central Taiwan overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, making landfall 76 miles south of Taipei around 7 a.m. Wednesday. Matmo is next forecast to continue across the Formosa Strait and make secondary landfall over southeastern China around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Earlier forecasts had Matmo emerging back over water, the Yellow Sea (or West Sea) as a tropical depression; current forecast track has Matmo now dissipating northwest of Shanghai. If it remains on its forecast track, Matmo should pass no closer than 450 miles southwest of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, at 9 p.m. Tuesday. Assuming no drastic changes, PST lets this one go for now.

6:15 p.m. Sunday, July 20, Japan time: Not much variation to Typhoon Matmo’s forecast track. Latest from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center places the track 385 miles west of Okinawa about 5 a.m. Wednesday, at bit earlier than previously forecast and still well out of reach of the island (for now).

Long-range forecast from Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight calls for clouds and anywhere from 20- to 40-percent chance of showers and isolated thunderstorms starting Tuesday and lasting into Thursday, with east and southeasterly winds between 19 and 22 mph. This could lighten or worsen depending on Matmo’s future movements.

At 6 p.m., Matmo was 560 miles east of Manila and 886 miles south of Kadena, moving north-northwest at just over 10 mph, packing 75-mph sustained winds and 92-mph gusts at its center.

If Matmo remains on its current forecast track, it’s expected to peak at 121-mph sustained winds and 150-mph gusts, Category 3-equivalent winds, as it rolls 16 miles south of Taipei at 11 p.m. China time Wednesday. Matmo is then forecast to cross the Formosa Strait and crash ashore some 400 miles south of Shanghai about 3 p.m. Thursday.

Super Typhoon 09W (Rammasun), # 8

5 p.m. Friday, July 18, China time: Though no U.S. assets are in harm’s way, Rammasun is quite the significant storm – the second super typhoon of the northwest Pacific’s tropical cyclone season.

Rammasun last week brought 40-mph gusts to Guam as it hustled west past the northern Marianas, and as it moved west-northwest, it intensified, and finally became a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon as it crashed ashore late Friday afternoon between Hainan Island and China’s southeast coast.

Along with it came 155-mph sustained winds and 190-mph gusts, just shy of the intensity with which Super Typhoon Haiyan packed as it leveled villages in the central Philippines last November. Haiyan was the strongest storm ever recorded. Prayers to the many on Haiyan and in southeast China.

9 a.m. Saturday, July 12, Guam time: Tropical storm warning for Guam and Rota and tropical storm watch for Tinian and Saipan have been canceled in the wake of 09W weakening into a tropical depression, according to a statement released by the National Weather Service on Guam. Damaging winds are no longer expected to occur in the Marianas Islands. Once it goes through and heads west toward the Philippines, intensification is due to resume, but for now, Guam and its relatives appear to be out of danger. Unless something drastic changes, PST signs off for now.

Typhoon Bart remembered

A handful of times in the past few days, PST has invoked the name of Typhoon Bart, the last truly big super typhoon to do extensive damage to Okinawa. Typhoon Neoguri is on target to become the next Bart, posing a significant threat as possibly the most powerful tropical cyclone to hit the island since Bart in September 1999.

Bart was the only super typhoon of the 1999 northwest Pacific tropical cyclone season. It caused $5 billion in damage all told, $5 million alone to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

Typhoon 08W (Neoguri), # 38 FINAL

Typhoon Neoguri on July 8, 2014.

6 a.m. Thursday, July 10, Japan time: Neoguri has been downgraded to a tropical storm, and already, Sasebo Naval Base has issued Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-R (recovery). Fleet Activities Sasebo commanding officer Capt. Chip Rock, on CFAS' Facebook page, says he intends to open the base for normal business as soon as possible.

Increased vertical wind shear, interaction with land and cooler sea-surface temperatures are not doing Neoguri any favors. It will continue east near Sasebo, then quickly pass Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and U.S. bases in the Kanto Plain but as little more than a cold-core low, bringing showers and high winds to each as it goes by. Barring any drastic changes, PST will sign off for now.

Two trouble spots near Palau, Guam

4:45 p.m. Guam time, Wednesday, July 2:Storm Tracker is keeping an eyeball on two tropical disturbances, one near Palau, the other southeast of Guam. Too early to say definitively what one or the other or both might do. However, special weather statement issued by the National Weather Service on Guam at mid-day Wednesday said the disturbance some 400 miles southeast of Guam is expected to head northwest between Guam and Yap in the coming days. Heavy showers and isolated thunderstorms forecast for Guam over the next few days, with improving conditions expected by Sunday or Monday. Flooding possible in low-lying areas. PST will keep an eye on things.

Okinawa enters seasonal TCCOR 4 on Sunday.

5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 1, Japan time: U.S. bases on Okinawa were placed in seasonal Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 4 at 1 minute past midnight Sunday. This happens every year and it lasts until Nov. 30, because of Okinawa’s closeness to areas of the western Pacific where tropical cyclones typically form. There was one in September 2003 that actually formed right over Okinawa.

To reinforce what longtimers on island already know and for newbies who’ve not experienced a tropical cyclone’s wrath: They are not to be toyed with lightly. Preparation and communication are keys to staying safe.



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.