Typhoon could threaten Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Kadena Air Base weather officials cast an eye eastward Tuesday to Typhoon Longwang, which spawned on Sunday near the Northern Marianas Islands and began tracking west-northwest toward Okinawa.
Longwang gained strength overnight and was upgraded from a tropical storm to a typhoon at 9 a.m. Tuesday by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii.
Longwang’s maximum wind gusts of 127 mph made it equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane.
Capt. Colin Reece, commanding officer of Kadena’s 18th Weather Flight, said it was too early to tell how the 19th storm of the northwest Pacific’s tropical cyclone season could affect the island but the “potential is for it to come pretty close and give us 65-knot (75-mph) winds, depending on how it tracks.”
The track forecast for it by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center has wobbled since it formed. But if the storm remains on the current track forecast for it, Longwang will pass 45 miles south of Kadena at 11 a.m. Saturday, bringing sustained winds of 115 mph and gusts up to 144 mph.
That’s equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.
Longwang is Chinese for Dragon King, the god of rain in Chinese mythology. Longwang could come closer to the island, Reece said, than four storms earlier this summer that threatened but only ended up grazing Okinawa.
Okinawa thus far has been spared the wrath of 2004, one of the busiest typhoon seasons on record in which 28 storms were spawned, eight of which threatened or hit the island in a 13-week span.
So far this season, Reece said, none of the four storms nearing the island have caused the 18th Weather Flight to declare Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-E (emergency), during which winds of 58 mph or greater are occurring and all outside activities on base are prohibited.
The 18th Weather Flight planned a 4:30 p.m. Wednesday strike meeting.
Changes in TCCORs typically are posted after such meetings.
At 9 p.m. Tuesday, Longwang was almost 782 miles east-southeast of Okinawa, churning north-northwest at about 10 mph, packing sustained winds of 104 and gusts up to 127 at its center.
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