Okinawa on alert as tropical storm Morakot approaches
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 6, 2009
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Winds gusting up to 70 mph were forecast for Thursday evening as a tropical storm rumbled toward Okinawa.
Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 was issued for Okinawa at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in advance of Tropical Storm Morakot, the ninth named storm of the season, officials at Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight said.
Should Okinawa feel Morakot’s full force, it would be the first significant tropical storm to hit the island since Man-yi unleashed 105 mph winds and 10 inches of rain on July 13, 2007.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Morakot sat 550 miles east-southeast of Okinawa, churning west-northwest at 12 mph, packing sustained 46 mph winds with 58 mph gusts. Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts called for Morakot to rapidly move past Okinawa on Friday and into China early Saturday.
Kadena Weather Flight forecasts call for Okinawa to feel Morakot’s outer bands starting just after 6 p.m. Wednesday, with winds increasing into Thursday, when gusts of up to 70 mph could come between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Winds should dissipate by early Saturday morning.
Much depends on the storm’s forward speed, said Senior Master Sgt. Brian McDonald of the 18th Wing Weather Flight.
The storm’s current rapid movement “doesn’t give it a chance to really strengthen much,” he said. “If it slows down dramatically, it will be a stronger storm, which is what we don’t want.”
Base officials strongly recommended securing outdoor items; cobbling together typhoon kits with flashlights, bottled water and nonperishable foods; and putting towels under windows and doors to keep water out.
“Don’t be complacent. Take it seriously. Prepare early so you’re not rushing around later,” spokesperson 1st Lt. Bryan Bouchard of Kadena’s 18th Wing public affairs office said.
Morakot is Thai for emerald.