Okinawa on the lookout for a possible tropical storm
A tropical disturbance that flared up 460 miles east-southeast of Kadena Air Base could bring gusty winds and heavy rain to Okinawa on Friday, military forecasters said.
On Wednesday, U.S. bases on the island were placed under Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3, meaning winds of 58 mph or greater were possible within 48 hours.
Capt. Jonathan Wilson, commander of the 18th Wing’s weather flight at Kadena, said the system’s proximity led officials to issue a “tropical cyclone formation alert.”
“Because it’s so close, and it’s looking good for formation into a tropical depression or tropical storm, we want people to be prepared,” Wilson said. “Should this thing intensify rapidly, they need to be able to execute typhoon preparations quickly in a short amount of time.
“This is a preparatory step to let everybody know there’s something out there, we’re watching it and it’s really close by.”
And it’s an example of why Okinawa stays in TCCOR 4 at all times during the typhoon season, he said.
“Storms can form so close to us and intensify so quickly, there’s no time to do a countdown,” he said.
Wilson said the tropical disturbance was moving in the general direction of Okinawa on Wednesday afternoon at about 10 mph. It’s expected to arrive midday Friday, with at least 2 inches of rain and winds in excess of 50 mph a possibility.
“I don’t think it’ll be much stronger than that,” Wilson said. “Even if it doesn’t form into a tropical cyclone, it’s not going to be a very nice day on Friday.”
Moving primarily on a straight westerly path, the tropical flare-up should slide into the East China Sea once it gets past Okinawa, he said. It could then reach the Chinese coast, but forecasters expect it to fizzle out.