Okinawa eyes approach of typhoon season's fifth storm
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa can begin preparing for a windy, wet visitor at the start of next week.
Typhoon Haitang, the fifth storm of the northwest Pacific’s typhoon season, is moving gradually westward and could threaten the island and its U.S. facilities as early as Sunday afternoon, according to Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts.
Officials at Kadena Air Base’s 18th Weather Flight said Thursday they couldn’t provide immediate specifics on how much wind and rain the island can expect and for how long. They were planning a Friday morning typhoon strike meeting to discuss it and said more information would be available after that.
As of midnight local time Thursday, Typhoon Haitang was about 300 miles south of Iwo Jima, moving west-southwest at around 20 mph with sustained winds of 98 mph and gusts up to 121 mph.
If it continues on its projected path, Haitang will pass about 270 miles southwest of Kadena around 3 a.m. Monday, packing sustained winds of 132 mph and gusts up to 167 mph.
Haitang, a Chinese word for crabapple tree, would be the first storm to threaten Okinawa this year, on the heels of last year’s typhoon season, one of the busiest on record — 28 storms, 14 of which threatened or struck Japan, including nine during a 15-week span last summer and fall.