Season's latest storm expected to pass far north of Okinawa
Stars and Stripes October 26, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The ninth tropical storm to threaten Okinawa in 15 weeks is expected to pack relatively little punch as it passes north of the island Tuesday, Kadena Air Base weather officials said Sunday.
Typhoon Nock-Ten’s closest point of approach is projected to be 90 miles north of Kadena at 11 p.m. Tuesday, packing sustained winds of 80.5 mph with gusts up to 98 at its center.
“We’re only expecting 55-knot (63 mph) winds” on Tuesday from Nock-Ten, said Senior Airman Erika Huff of Kadena’s 18th Weather Flight, adding that the storm, much smaller than Tokage, which hit Okinawa last week, is “breaking apart already” and could push even further north of Okinawa.
Nock-Ten, a Laotian word for bird, spawned near the Marshall Islands almost 10 days ago, passed to the south of Guam on Wednesday and continued west-northwest toward Taiwan. It’s forecast to make a hairpin turn to the east-northeast as it reaches land.
The storm’s west-northwest movement was influenced by a “really strong high to the north,” Huff said, preventing it from initially moving toward Okinawa. As the high moves off to the east, “then it will turn,” she said.
Weather models are showing that as the storm reaches Taiwan, “it will start to shear apart,” Huff said. “There’s cooler water over there. It is expected to weaken significantly as it reaches Taipei but it is still forecast to be a typhoon” when it closes in on Okinawa.
Saturday’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center projection showed the storm passing within 7 miles of Okinawa; by 6 p.m. Sunday, that mileage had increased to 90. “It’s a possibility that it could push further north,” Huff said.
U.S. bases on Okinawa entered Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 at 3 p.m. Sunday. Huff said TCCOR 2 probably would be declared at 5 p.m. Monday, with TCCOR 1 to follow at 5 a.m. Tuesday, after which nonessential activites will cease and schools will close.
TCCOR 1 Caution is expected to be declared at 9 a.m. Tuesday, followed by 1 Emergency from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
At midnight Sunday, Nock-Ten was about 437 miles southwest of Kadena, moving northwest at about 18.5 mph, packing sustained winds of 121 mph and gusts up to 150 at its center.
Winds of 58 mph or greater are forecast to last from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, an 18th Weather Flight bulletin said Sunday evening.
Nock-Ten follows on the heels of Tokage, a vast, powerful storm, which last Tuesday dumped 5.5 inches of rain on Kadena and brought wind gusts of up to 88.5 mph at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.
Tokage then churned toward Kyushu, killing at least 67, injuring more than 275 and leaving 25 missing in what meteorologists called the worst storm to hit Japan’s southwesternmost main island since 1979.
Nock-Ten is the 28th storm of the northwest Pacific’s typhoon season, the most since 1994. Of those, 14 have either threatened or struck Japan.
Prior to Tokage:
¶ Typhoon Ma-on passed to the east of Okinawa just before Columbus Day weekend before making a beeline to Tokyo. As many as six deaths were blamed on the storm.
¶ Typhoon Meari circled to the south of Okinawa in late September before turning northeast and barreling into Kyushu.
¶ Over Labor Day weekend, Songda raked Okinawa with winds of 88 mph at Kadena Air Base. Meteorologists called it one of the worst storms to hit the island in decades.
¶ Aere bore down on the island before moving to the south in late August, sparing the island of its strongest winds.
¶ In mid-August, Megi passed about 100 miles southwest of Okinawa, hitting the island with winds of up to 67 mph before heading to Korea.
¶ Rananim in early August lurked to the southeast for days before finally tracking south-southwest of Okinawa.