Okinawa keeping an eye on brewing storm
Stars and Stripes June 18, 2003
CAMP FOSTER, Japan — A tropical storm formed in the warm waters near the Philippines could be menacing Okinawa’s shores as early as Wednesday morning.
Tropical Storm Soudelor sent Okinawa bases into Typhoon Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 Monday morning. Forecasts put the storm’s eye at 104 miles northwest of Kadena Air Base by 1 p.m. Wednesday.
In addition, Sasebo Naval Base on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu entered TCCR Four, meaning destructive winds of 58 mph or greater are expected within 72 hours. Present forecasts indicate the storm’s eye should pass about 52 miles from Sasebo around 7 a.m. Thursday.
It’s also expected to bring 58-mph winds to Okinawa.
Soudelor — a Micronesian name for a legendary Pohnpei chief — was on a track moving from northeast of Manila into the Pacific Ocean off Taiwan, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The storm packed 69-mph winds, with gusts up to 86 mph. Fifty-eight mph winds stretched 35 miles from the storm’s center.
Satellite imagery of the tropical storm showed that it was organized, which indicates strength, but small for a cyclone.
The storm’s complicated upper atmospheric conditions are making it difficult for computers to predict its path and strength, said Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Kawczk, a tropical storm forecaster at Sasebo’s Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Detachment.
“Anything could happen with this one, but we will get some of this storm — that’s for sure,” he said. “The strength is dependent upon which way the storm moves and whether we are impacted by the west or east side of the storm. The east is stronger.”
Forecasters expected the storm to grow slightly in size and intensity, possibly reaching typhoon strength. But Soudelor likely will begin to fizzle and downgrade back to a tropical storm as it reaches Okinawa, they said.