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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Sinlaku spawned Monday night east of the Philippines, rapidly strengthened into a Category 1-equivalent typhoon and is forecast to make a beeline toward Okinawa by Saturday. It also could hit Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, early next week.

Capt. Brandon Alexander of Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight said Okinawa should expect potential tropical cyclone condition of readiness changes Wednesday morning. Initial forecasts called for Okinawa to experience wind gusts in excess of 80 mph with rain squalls Friday night into Saturday.

Sinlaku is the 15th numbered storm of what’s been an unusually quiet northwest Pacific tropical cyclone season.

"Not what I expected," Alexander said of the subdued season.

At 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sinlaku lurked some 550 miles south-southwest of Okinawa, churning slowly north-northwest at 7 mph.

Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts called for Sinlaku to rumble directly over Kadena Air Base at 2 p.m. Saturday, packing 115 mph winds and 140 mph gusts, equal to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

If Sinlaku moves as forecast, winds of 30 mph and greater should begin sometime Thursday, Alexander said. As Sinlaku gets closer, Okinawa should brace for winds and gusts of 50 to 80 mph overnight Friday into Saturday, along with heavy rain, Alexander said.

Sasebo Naval Base, in southwestern Kyushu, could be next on Sinlaku’s itinerary. It’s forecast to get within 150 miles southeast of Sasebo at 9 p.m. Sunday, with 75 mph winds and 92 mph gusts as it weakens as it moves northeast.

The storm began picking up speed Tuesday afternoon, Alexander said.

"That’s bad in terms of being able to prepare adequately … but good in that the duration may be less. A good slam and it may be out."

Sinlaku is a Micronesian term for a legendary Kosrae goddess.


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