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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Typhoon Ewiniar continued to grow in size and strength as it rumbled slowly north toward Okinawa. It’s forecast to pass just west of the island late Saturday, gusting up to 86 mph with heavy rain.

Sasebo Naval Base and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station in southwestern Japan were preparing for a late Sunday-early Monday visit by the storm, the fourth of the northwest Pacific’s typhoon season. Ewiniar also is projected to swipe Chinhae Naval Base and Busan in South Korea’s southeastern corner.

Ewiniar slowed slightly Thursday as it bumped against a high-pressure area, said Capt. Colin Reece, 18th Wing weather flight commander at Kadena Air Base.

But as upper-level flow starts to pull it north-northeast, “it should start moving a little bit quicker,” Reece said.

If the storm passes west of Okinawa, the island will experience its right-front quadrant, “which will give us higher wind speeds,” Reece said. “The right-front quadrant is always going to be the strongest part of the storm.”

Sasebo also should see Ewiniar pass just to the west. “We’ll get the full force of it,” said base spokesman Chuck Howard. Sasebo can expect wind gusts of up to 115 mph on Sunday evening. “If a storm … goes to the west, we get hammered pretty good,” he said.

At midnight Thursday, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported, Ewiniar was 420 miles south of Naha, moving northwest at 7 mph with sustained 121-mph winds and 150-mph gusts at its center — a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

If Ewiniar stays on the track JTWC forecast, it will pass 75 miles west of Kadena at midnight Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of 58 mph and peak winds of up to 86 mph at 10 p.m. Saturday, according to the 18th Weather Flight’s forecast.

Okinawa set Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness-2 at 5 p.m. Thursday, Reece said. Crosswinds of 29 mph were expected around noon Friday.

Winds of 58 mph or greater — when TCCOR 1E (emergency) would be declared and all outside activities prohibited — are forecast for 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday.

Sasebo was bracing for an arrival forecast for 85 miles to the west of that base at 7 a.m. Monday, with 86 mph sustained winds and 104 mpg gusts. Base officials issued TCCOR 4 at 4 p.m. Thursday, with TCCOR 3 expected to be declared at mid-morning Friday.

Howard said officials were to meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday to discuss storm preparations, including which ships should leave port for safe waters or shield from the storm in the harbor.

He also said off-base residents who would prefer to shelter on base will be offered whatever rooms are available in on-base billeting and the Navy Lodge.

Ewiniar is then forecast to head to Busan and Chinhae, South Korea. Forecasts call for the storm — still a typhoon, packing sustained winds of 86 mph and gusts approaching 104 — to hit both sites almost directly.

Iwakuni likely would go to TCCOR 3 late Friday “to make sure everybody gets the word before they leave for the weekend,” said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Geraci, weather staff noncommissioned officer in charge. “But … the base commander hasn’t made that decision yet.”

Iwakuni, shielded by mountain ridges to the west, likely would be spared much of Ewiniar’s remaining wrath. It’s projected to pass 164 miles west at 2 p.m. Monday, packing sustained winds of 86 mph and gusts of up to 100 mph.

Among events affected by Ewiniar, Saturday’s scheduled interservice football game, pitting the Atsugi Falcons against the Kadena Dragons, has been postponed until July 15. A decision about the Friday-Sunday Commanders Cup softball tournaments at Camp Hansen and Futenma Marine Corps Air Station wasn’t expected until 1 p.m. Friday, said Mike Desmone, Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit Athletics.

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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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