Shanshan strengthens into typhoon, moves toward Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Shanshan, the 14th storm of the Pacific northwest’s tropical cyclone season, strengthened into a typhoon overnight Monday and tracked northwest toward a possible weekend collision with Okinawa, weather officials said.
A typhoon strike meeting was planned for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday by Kadena’s 18th Wing staff. Officials at Kadena’s weather flight said Shanshan is forecast to pass east of Okinawa late Saturday or early Sunday, and the island should brace for sustained winds of 80 mph and gusts of up to 115 mph.
“It’s dangerous enough to cause some damage,” said Capt. John Hurley, of the 18th Wing weather flight.
Shanshan was forecast to move west-northwest into Thursday, influenced by high pressure to the north. Another high-pressure ridge is forecast to move from China east over Taiwan and force the storm to curve sharply north-northeast toward a low-pressure trough to the north, taking it toward the “path of least resistance,” Hurley said.
As it heads toward Okinawa, “it will weaken as it interacts with the island, but expect it to gain more strength” as it moves away from the island, Hurley said.
Kadena weather flight officials project to set Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 at 4 p.m. Thursday, followed by TCCOR 2 at 4 p.m. Friday, TCCOR 1 at 4 a.m. Saturday, TCCOR 1C (caution) at 6 a.m. Saturday and TCCOR 1E (emergency) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts call for Shanshan to pass 37 miles east of Kadena at 6 a.m. Sunday, packing sustained winds of 115 mph and gusts of up to 140 mph at its center — equal to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale of 1-5.
At noon Tuesday, Shanshan swirled 541 miles southeast of Okinawa, rumbling west-northwest at 7 mph with sustained Category 2 hurricane-equivalent winds of 104 mph and 127 mph gusts.