Pacific edition, Thursday, July 12, 2007

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Man-yi strengthened Tuesday afternoon into the northwest Pacific’s third typhoon of the season and continued tracking toward a possible direct hit on Okinawa by Friday evening.

Weather officials at Kadena Air Base said the island could feel maximum sustained winds of 46 mph and gusts of up to 69 mph, along with plenty of rain as Man-yi curves just east of Okinawa over the weekend.

“This is a very powerful storm,” said Capt. Jonathan Wilson, 18th Wing Weather Flight commanding officer, adding that Man-yi’s track still could change, and despite the benign look of the projected wind speeds, people should prepare for the worst.

“Regardless whether it nails us with an overhead track, if it goes west of us or east of us, it is so large, we are going to get heavy winds and rain out of it,” Wilson said.

At midnight Tuesday, Man-yi whirled 1,058 miles southeast of Okinawa, churning northwest at 13 mph with sustained 81-mph winds and 98-mph gusts.

If it continues on its forecast track, Man-yi will pass 30 miles east of Okinawa at 1 a.m. Saturday, packing sustained winds of 132 mph and gusts of up to 161 mph at its center.

Should Okinawa get pounded by winds exceeding 58 mph from the storm, it would be only the second time since 2004 that U.S. bases on Okinawa would enter Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-E (emergency), the island’s highest state of weather readiness.

With so few typhoons the past two-plus seasons, Wilson expressed worry that island residents, particularly those who’ve lived on Okinawa for years, might have become too comfortable.

U.S. Forces Japan regulations require servicemembers, civilians and dependents to remain indoors during TCCOR 1-E, Wilson said, even if they live off base and can see locals outside going about their business.

Wilson said the biggest mistake people can make is thinking the storm is over, when in fact it’s just a brief break in the winds, Wilson said.

“It can be deceiving and you can get hurt,” he said. “You get calm in the middle of the storm, you go outside and without warning the opposite eyewall comes and you go from no wind to 100-knot winds in a space of 30 seconds.”

Preparing for the storm by getting supplies, as well as securing things in your yard and around your residence, is just as important as staying indoors, Wilson said.

“If you’re prepared, it doesn’t matter whether the storm is big or small, goes left, right or over the top of us,” he said. “You’re ready for whatever comes your way."

Wind forecasts

Typhoon Man-yi wind forecast for Okinawa as of 6 p.m. Japan time on Tuesday. Times are approximate and could change depending on storm’s track:

Winds exceeding 35 mph: 3 a.m. Friday.Winds exceeding 40 mph: 6 a.m. Friday.Winds exceeding 58 mph: 3 p.m. Friday.Winds dropping below 58 mph: 11 p.m. Friday.Winds dropping below 40 mph: 2 p.m. Saturday.Winds dropping below 35 mph: 6 p.m. Saturday.Maximum sustained winds of 46 mph and gusts of up to 69 forecast for Friday afternoon and evening.

Source: 18th Wing Weather Flight, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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