KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Typhoon Maemi continued to strengthen Tuesday as it moved closer to Okinawa.
The storm, located 414 miles south-southeast of Okinawa early Tuesday, packed sustained winds of 86 mph, with gusts exceeding 103 mph as it moved steadily to the west-northwest at 11 mph.
Military bases went into Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 at 3 p.m. Monday as Maemi, with possible destructive winds of 57 mph or greater, was expected to hit Okinawa within 48 hours.
The storm likely will pass 80 miles west of the island by 1 p.m. Thursday, with the strongest winds whipping up to 95 mph, said meteorologist Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Lester of 18th Weather Flight.
“The storm is still somewhat unorganized,” Lester said. “But we will see lots of rain about the time of the onset of significant winds about 6 p.m. local time Wednesday.”
The strongest sustained winds on Okinawa are expected to be 63 mph, with gusts 95 mph.
“It’s a pretty decent-sized storm,” Lester said.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii warned that Maemi — the Korean name for cicadas that chirp madly to warn of a coming typhoon — will make a sharp turn to the north-northeast once it passes Okinawa, putting it on course for Sasebo Naval Base, Japan. Early Tuesday, the forecast placed Maemi on track to pass Saturday morning within 23 miles of Sasebo. At that time, it is expected to have sustained winds of 110 mph, gusting to 130 mph.
The closest point of approach to Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station was forecast to be 54 miles Saturday afternoon.
The 18th Weather Flight forecast military bases on Okinawa will go into TCCOR 2 at midnight Tuesday, meaning destructive winds of 57 mph or greater are expected within 24 hours.
Sometime Wednesday afternoon the bases are expected to declare TCCOR 1C, with winds of 57 mph or greater expected within 12 hours.
All schools and businesses would close at that time and all nonessential personnel will be released to their homes and quarters. Movement on base is to be kept at a minimum at that time and an “essential vehicles only” policy will go into effect.
The storm should be well past Okinawa on Friday morning, according to the 18th Weather Flight. The forecast for Friday is mostly cloudy with isolated showers.
This is the fourth typhoon of the year to pass near Okinawa. The most recent, Etau, hit the island Aug. 6, with winds gusting to 112 mph.