Typhoon Meari less severe than originally predicted for Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Typhoon Meari spared Okinawa on Sunday, passing some 90 miles to the south.
The highest winds on Okinawa were clocked at 70 mph at 2:30 a.m. and again at 6:30 a.m. in Naha. The highest winds on Kadena Air Base were recorded at 40 mph at noon, according to the base’s 18th Weather Flight. At one time Saturday, as the typhoon approached, forecasters had predicted the storm would churn directly over Okinawa, with winds gusting to 150 mph. But a high-pressure ridge moving east from China prevented Typhoon Meari — Korean for “echo” — from pushing far enough to the north to affect the island.
Weather forecasters continued casting a wary eye at the storm, which had just about stopped dead in its tracks some 90 miles to the south of Okinawa on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s slowed down considerably and is now expected to hang out for a while,” said Tech Sgt. Michael Milton, a forecaster with the 18th Weather Flight. “We’re watching it to make sure it doesn’t make a U-turn and come back over us the way Typhoon Nari did in September 2001.”
Once the high pressure ridge breaks down, Meari is expected to follow the more normal course for storms this time of year and make a right turn towards Kyushu, he said. “We were lucky — again,” Milton said, comparing the storm to Typhoon Songda, which hit Okinawa on Labor Day weekend.
Typhoon Meari is expected to decrease in intensity once it begins to move to the northeast and interacts with dry air and colder sea temperatures, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
The storm center is expected to pass within 21 miles of Sasebo Wednesday afternoon, with winds gusting to 80 mph. Early Thursday the storm is forecast to pass within 31 miles of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station with winds up to 65 mph.
—Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.