KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — A storm brewing early Friday 265 miles south of Okinawa could build to typhoon strength by the time it nears the island Saturday.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu predicts the tropical depression will intensify to typhoon-strength by Saturday. As of 1 a.m., the JTWC had Tropical Storm Choi-Wan moving to to the northwest at 10 mph. It had winds at its center at 46 mph. It was expected to build to typhoon strength as it approached Okinawa and made a sharp turn to the northeast.
The JTWC forecast the typhoon to pass directly over Kadena Air Base by 8 p.m. Saturday. Damaging winds of 57 mph or greater were expected to be occur on Okinawa from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. The strongest winds on Okinawa are expected to be 97.5 mph at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Military bases on Okinawa were expected to go into Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-Caution at 5 a.m. Saturday, with TCCOR 1-Emergency to follow at 5 p.m.
According to the JTWC, Typhoon Choi-Wan is expected to continue on a track to the northeast once it passes over Okinawa. It is not forecast to threaten the Japanese main island.
“Looking at the forecast now, the rain will stay with us through the weekend,” Staff Sgt. Richelle Greer, an 18th Weather Flight meteorologist, said Thursday. “By Saturday morning, we should start experiencing winds of 30 to 40 knots [34.5 to 46 mph].”
The storm, the 16th tropical event of the season in the Western Pacific, would become the fifth typhoon to threaten Okinawa this year.
Just a week ago, Typhoon Maemi, the strongest typhoon to hit the Okinawan islands in more than 30 years, killed one person, injured at least 94 more and flooded dozens of homes.
It saved its full fury, however, for the Korean peninsula. There it became the most powerful typhoon on record to hit South Korea, leaving 127 people dead or missing, and causing almost $3 billion in damage.