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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — U.S. bases on Okinawa entered their first increased level of readiness for the current northwest Pacific tropical cyclone season. TCCOR 2 was declared at 2 a.m. Thursday as Typhoon Man-yi rumbled toward a near-direct hit of the island Friday.

Joint Typhoon Warning Center tracks indicated that Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in southwestern Japan could be the next destinations, late Saturday into Sunday, for the third typhoon of the season.

Plans were being made Wednesday to evacuate heavy aircraft from Kadena Air Base, officials there said, hours after Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 was issued for the island by 18th Wing commander Brig. Gen. Brett T. Williams.

Master Sgt. Brian McDonald, noncommissioned officer in charge of Kadena’s 18th Wing Weather Flight, said U.S. bases on Okinawa should brace for 92 mph sustained winds and gusts of up to 115 mph between 3 a.m. and 11 p.m. Friday.

“Complacency with this storm is not an option,” McDonald stated in an e-mail addressed to key personnel on the island.

Man-yi is forecast to pass 14 miles east of Kadena at 9 a.m. Friday. An easterly pass means the island should get winds and rain from Man-yi’s weaker western quadrants.

But 18th Wing Weather Flight commander Capt. Jonathan Wilson warned that even a tiny shift in Man-yi’s track “would put it right over us.”

“It wouldn’t take much for the thing to burp and wobble west,” Wilson said. “This is a dangerous storm. This one’s scary. It’s so close. A lot of things could happen and a lot of them are not good.”

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Man-yi churned 558 miles south-southeast of Okinawa, rapidly rumbling northwest at 23 mph with 115 mph sustained winds and 144 mph gusts.

Man-yi is forecast to be packing sustained 144 mph winds and 172 mph gusts at its center — equal to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale — as it roars past Okinawa on Friday.

Rainfall from Man-yi’s feeder bands was predicted to begin Thursday afternoon. Winds of 35 mph or more should follow at 6 p.m., increasing throughout Friday into early Saturday morning, then gradually abating, according to 18th Wing Weather Flight forecasts.

Everywhere from Okinawa to Iwakuni, base officials said they were getting word out to their people to begin cleaning around their homes and offices well before Man-yi arrives.

Long lines and packed parking lots were visible at Camp Foster’s commissary just after Wednesday’s regular duty day ended.

At Kadena, KC-135 Stratotankers and other heavy aircraft were set to begin leaving late Wednesday into Thursday, said base spokesman Capt. Carlos Diaz.

Marine Corps Base Camp Butler spokesman 1st Lt. Brian Block said a command change involving the 12th Marines was moved up from Friday to Thursday.

Sasebo officials indicated Man-yi would be more of a “rain event,” with six inches of precipitation forecast to fall Saturday and Sunday, base spokesman Chuck Howard said. The base had no immediate plans to move ships out of harm’s way yet.

Man-yi is forecast to pass 175 miles southeast of Sasebo at 3 p.m. Saturday as a Category 1-equivalent storm.

Man-yi is projected to graze Iwakuni 143 miles to its southeast at midnight. Aside from standard preparation, ensuring people stock up on water, nonperishable food, batteries and other items, “we’re monitoring the weather, we’re looking at it,” base spokesman Maj. Billy Canedo said.

From there, Man-yi was forecast to continue moving to the east-northeast and make landfall as a tropical storm just south of Kyoto around 6 a.m. Sunday, packing 69 mph sustained winds and 86 mph gusts.

Storm track projection

Typhoon Man-yi wind forecast for Okinawa as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Japan time:

Winds exceeding 35 mph — 6 p.m. Thursday

Winds exceeding 40 mph — 9 p.m. Thursday

*Winds exceeding 58 mph — 3 a.m. Friday

Winds dropping below 58 mph — 11 p.m. Friday

Winds dropping below 40 mph — 9 a.m. Saturday

Winds dropping below 35 mph — noon Saturday

* Maximum sustained winds of 92 mph and gusts of up to 115 mph forecast for Friday 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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