Typhoon Shanshan changes course
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — High pressure south of Japan forced Typhoon Shanshan to keep churning westward on Wednesday, well to Okinawa’s south.
Forecast to veer north and then pass well west of Okinawa this weekend, the northwest Pacific’s 14th storm of the tropical cyclone season may spare the island its full fury.
U.S. bases on Okinawa remained in seasonal Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 4 on Wednesday. Kadena Air Base, 18th Wing weather flight officials said there were no immediate plans to declare upgraded TCCORs, but the storm was still cause for concern.
“We’re keeping an eye on it,” said Tech. Sgt. Amy Craine of the 18th Wing weather flight. “It (Shan- shan’s track) could change.”
Shanshan’s track did change drastically Wednesday afternoon. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s noon forecast called for Shanshan to turn sharply northeast and graze Okinawa about 20 miles off its east coast, lashing the island with 115 mph wind gusts Saturday and Sunday.
But a subtropical high-pressure ridge south of Japan’s main islands remained stronger than originally forecast, forcing Shanshan to track further west than projected.
The JTWC’s midnight update forecast Shanshan to make a more gradual northerly turn, passing Okinawa about 113 miles to the west at 2 p.m. Sunday. If it remains on its forecast track, Okinawa should brace for maximum wind gusts of 54 mph Sunday afternoon, with “between 1 to 3 inches of rain,” Craine said.
At midnight Wednesday, Shanshan swirled 397 miles south of Okinawa, rumbling west-northwest at 8 mph, packing sustained winds of 98 mph and 121 mph gusts at its center, equal to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.