CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A new tropical storm welled up overnight Monday east of the Philippines, but officials at Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing weather flight said Xangsane did not then appear to be a threat to Okinawa.
“We’ll continue watching it because storms can do some crazy things sometimes,” said 18th Wing weather flight commander Capt. Jonathan Wilson.
Xangsane, the 18th storm of the northwest Pacific’s tropical cyclone season, was tracking west-northwest toward the Philippines’ northernmost island of Luzon and unless conditions change dramatically, it appeared it would continue heading west.
“At worst, it would be five days away” from Okinawa if Xangsane does an about-face and heads east, Wilson said.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Xangsane sat 460 miles east-southeast of Manila, rumbling west-northwest at 7 mph, with sustained winds of 52 mph and gusts of up to 63 mph at its center.
If it continues on the track forecast by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Xangsane will strengthen into a typhoon by Thursday afternoon and will pass 107 miles north of Manila at 2 a.m. Friday, packing sustained winds of 71 mph and 90-mph gusts, equal to a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Xangsane then will continue tracking west, briefly diminishing into a tropical storm as it crosses Luzon, then reintensifying into a typhoon as it moves into the South China Sea toward China’s southeastern Hainan Island.
Xangsane is a Laotian word for elephant.