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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Typhoon Haitang is expected to spare Okinawa its most vicious winds as it passes well to the south of the island over the weekend.

But officials at Kadena Air Base’s 18th Weather Flight nonetheless painted an icky weekend weather picture.

Winds of up to 46 mph and isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms associated with the storm were forecast to rake the island starting Saturday and last until sometime Tuesday, duty weather forecaster Senior Airman Kyna Davis said.

The Japan Weather Association’s Web site was forecasting a 60 percent chance of rain for Sunday and 50 percent Monday, gradually diminishing as Haitang moves toward China.

At 9 a.m. Friday, Haitang was about 750 miles southeast of Okinawa’s prefectural capital of Naha. At 9 p.m., it was moving west at about 15 mph, with sustained winds of 132 mph and gusts up to 161 mph.

If it remains on its projected path, Haitang is forecast to pass nearly 400 miles southwest of Kadena at 6 a.m. Sunday, packing sustained winds of 144 mph and gusts up to 173 mph. The storm is expected to pass just to the southwest of the Ishigaki island chain in far western Japan and slam into Taiwan.

The storm’s forecast path has varied, sometimes greatly, with virtually every Joint Typhoon Warning Center six-hour update. Davis said 18th Weather Flight may declare Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness-3 “as a precaution.”

TCCOR-3 means destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible within 48 hours; residents are advised to initiate a general cleanup around homes and offices, according to Kadena’s weather Web site.

“We will be keeping a very close eye on it,” Davis said. As of Friday evening, 18th Weather Flight had not convened a meeting to discuss upgrading the island’s conditions of readiness.

Rain associated with Haitang, a Chinese word that means crabapple tree, should provide a stark contrast to the last three weeks, when just 3.3 inches of rain fell at Kadena, Davis said. That came after a record rainy season that lasted almost two months and deluged the island with more than 37 inches.

If it changes course and veers to the north, Haitang would be the first storm to threaten Okinawa this year. Last year’s typhoon season was one of the busiest on record.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He served 10½ years in the Air Force, the last 4½ assigned to Stripes in Tokyo, and was then hired by Stripes on Oct. 25, 1985. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages Pacific Storm Tracker.
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