CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Typhoon Fengshen, making a huge change in its projected path from a day earlier, now appears on course to graze the island as it moves well to its southwest by Wednesday afternoon, if it lasts that long, according to weather officials.

The typhoon made landfall at 1 p.m. Friday over the south-central Philippines islands, packing sustained 86 mph winds and 104 mph gusts as it slammed ashore.

Fengshen’s forecast track varied by more than 650 miles east to west from Thursday to Friday, influenced by a high-pressure ridge to the north, Joint Typhoon Warning Center officials said.

"That’s typical" of a tropical cyclone’s first two days, during which it’s organizing and strengthening, said Tech. Sgt. Kelly Gould of Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight. "Forecasting tracks is an inexact science."

Assuming the track holds true, a lot would be working against Fengshen even reaching Okinawa, Gould said.

"It should weaken because of interaction with land," he said. "Any kind of interaction with land weakens it almost immediately [by cutting] off its warm water supply."

Gould said that by Monday trackers will have a better idea of what the typhoon is going to do.

Should it continue to move as forecast, Okinawa can expect possible showers and thunderstorms with winds gusting between 30 and 35 mph Wednesday afternoon.

"But the chances are, it’s going to change again," Gould said.

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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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