CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa and Japan’s main islands appear to be safe from Tropical Storm Soulik, which continued to churn slowly northwest toward Iwo Jima but was forecast to curve sharply northeast by the weekend and dissipate well to the east of Tokyo.

Okinawa might experience some “pretty significant waves” and “something in the next day or two as far as wind and increased chance of showers not associated with feeder bands but because it’s in the area,” said Capt. Jonathan Wilson, 18th Wing weather flight commander at Kadena Air Base.

An area of high pressure to the west is expected to slow Soulik down. Then low-pressure troughs coming in from the northwest will grab the storm and carry it northeast along the edges of another high-pressure ridge, well east of Okinawa, Wilson said.

At noon Thursday, Soulik swirled 201 miles south of Iwo Jima, rumbling northwest at 10 mph with sustained 69-mph winds and 86-mph gusts, just shy of typhoon strength.

Soulik was forecast to strengthen into a low-grade typhoon overnight Thursday, packing maximum sustained winds of 86 mph and 104-mph gusts into Tuesday, equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Soulik’s closest point of approach to Iwo Jima is forecast for 110 miles southwest at 6 a.m. Sunday. The island should experience a rainy, windy weekend as Soulik bends around to its south and west, with wind gusts exceeding 40 mph.

Forecasts call for the storm gradually to dissipate as it reaches cooler seas. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects that Soulik will stay well east of the Kanto Plain, passing about 378 miles southeast of Yokosuka Naval Base at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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