Support our mission

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Bases on Okinawa began bracing for what weather officials expect to be a wet, windy weekend, courtesy of Typhoon Sinlaku. Meanwhile, another tropical storm formed overnight Tuesday near Iwo Jima and began a zigzag course in Tokyo’s general direction, but it didn’t appear to be a threat to the area.

Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 was declared at 11 a.m. Wednesday for U.S. bases on Okinawa. Officials at Kadena’s 18th Wing Weather Flight forecast 58 mph sustained winds and 86 mph gusts Saturday evening with up to eight inches of rain.

Sinlaku’s track has varied westward by nearly 250 miles the past two days, according to Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts. Computer-generated dynamic aids still don’t completely agree on where Sinlaku might go, 18th Wing Weather Flight commander Capt. Brandon Alexander said.

"We need to remain watchful. We’re not out of the woods by a long shot," he said. "Take it seriously, don’t take chances, as always."

Alexander advised U.S. personnel on and off base to begin "taking stock of what they have in the house, make sure the typhoon kit is ready, be prepared to live out of the house for a couple of days."

"Start putting away outside items, toys, lawn furniture. Those can become dangerous. And take that trip to the commissary, if you haven’t already," he said.

At 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sinlaku churned 443 miles south-southwest of Okinawa, wobbling north at just 5 mph. "The good thing is, it’s slowing down, it gives us more time … to watch and see where it goes," Alexander said.

JTWC forecasts call for Sinlaku to rumble 65 miles west of Kadena at 10 p.m. Saturday, packing sustained 121 mph winds and 150 mph gusts at its center, nearly equal to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Gusts of 58 mph and greater should start Friday night, peaking as high as 92 mph late Saturday and diminishing early Sunday, Alexander said.

Sinlaku is forecast to pick up forward speed and weaken as it rumbles northeast away from Okinawa, diminishing into a tropical storm as it passes 158 miles southeast of Sasebo Naval Base at 9 p.m. Monday. It’s also projected to miss Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni some 220 miles to its southeast.

"It could still change," Alexander cautioned about the forecast track.

Commissaries are already seeing a bounce in business thanks to Sinlaku, with water and fast-food items flying off shelves as quickly as they could be restocked.

"We’re expecting a jump in business on Thursday; we may open our doors earlier," said Camp Foster Commissary’s grocery manager Jim Smalley. He said commissaries typically see an increase of as much as $30,000 in daily sales during the run-up to a storm.

A caller told Stripes that she needed an hour to shop and clear the checkout line at Kadena’s commissary. Smalley reported sporadic long lines during the day Wednesday.

Meanwhile, unnamed Tropical Storm 16W weakened into a tropical depression as it swirled 431 miles southeast of Tokyo at 3 p.m. Wednesday, moving west-northwest at 9 mph.

It’s forecast to creep within 125 miles of Yokosuka Naval Base and 150 miles of Yokota Air Base at mid-day Friday with 52 mph sustained winds and 65 mph gusts at its center. It should then turn back out toward open water northeast of Tokyo.

JTWC forecasts call for both bases to be well outside of the relatively small storm’s 40-mph wind bands. "Yokota may get nothing. Yokosuka might get something," Alexander said.

If it becomes a named storm, 16W will be called Hagupit, a Tagalog (Philippines) word meaning to lash or to flog.

On the Web:Follow Typhoon 15W (Sinlaku) forecast track at http://metocph.nmci.navy.mil/jtwc/warnings/wp1508.gif.Follow Tropical Storm 16W forecast track at http://metocph.nmci.navy.mil/jtwc/warnings/wp1608.gif.Get latest tropical cyclone conditions of readiness and weather information for Okinawa at http://weather.kadenaservices.com

author picture
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.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up