Typhoon Shanshan veers toward Sasebo, Iwakuni
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Typhoon Shanshan made a sharp right turn Friday onto a forecast track that was to take it just west of Okinawa on Saturday. Further along that track may be Sasebo Naval Base and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station.
Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 2 was declared by Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing weather flight at 5 p.m. Friday, while Sasebo declared TCCOR 3 at 2 p.m. Shanshan was forecast to graze each locale to the west, but each was bracing for wind gusts in excess of 58 mph, weather and base officials said.
A subtropical high-pressure ridge just south of Japan, which forced Shanshan to keep tracking west for several days, finally broke, and “the storm’s going right through it,” said Tech. Sgt. Richard Landsvord of Kadena’s weather flight.
Kadena’s weather forecast called for maximum sustained winds of 46 mph and gusts of up to 69 mph between noon Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday. TCCOR 1 was to be declared at 7 a.m. Saturday, followed by TCCOR 1-C (caution) at 8 a.m. and TCCOR 1-E (emergency) at noon. Wind gusts of up to 46 mph were forecast to remain in the area until midmorning Sunday.
At midnight Friday, Shanshan was swirling 316 miles southwest of Okinawa, rumbling north at 10 mph. If it remained on its forecast track, Shanshan was forecast to pass 148 miles west-northwest of Okinawa at 8 p.m. Saturday, packing sustained winds of 132 mph and 161 mph gusts at its center.
Shanshan is forecast to remain at typhoon strength as it churns northeast toward Sasebo, which was bracing for the storm to pass just 37 miles west at 9 p.m. Sunday, bringing sustained 86 mph winds and 104 mph gusts.
Weather officials at Sasebo were forecasting destructive winds in excess of 58 mph starting late afternoon Sunday, continuing into Monday, base spokesman Chuck Howard said.
That Shanshan is forecast to pass west of Sasebo is of concern to the base, Howard said. Its harbor is exposed to tropical cyclones passing west, which usually means the base gets hit with winds from storms’ northeast and southeast quadrants, typically the most powerful. The harbor is shielded by mountains to the north from storms passing to the east.
A decision on whether to move ships docked at Sasebo out of harm’s way by anchoring, moving them into dry dock or sending them to sea was to be made Saturday, Howard said.
Depending on how long the storm lasts, there “may be a late school opening on Monday, and some other services might be interrupted, such as passenger pickup or drop-off at Fukuoka Airport” if Japanese officials close the expressway, Howard said.
Officials at Iwakuni said the southwestern Japan base remained in seasonal TCCOR 4. Base spokeswoman Master Sgt. Lesli Coakley said Iwakuni weather officials may “possibly” declare TCCOR 3 if Shanshan remains on its current track.
Shanshan is forecast to churn 106 miles northwest of Iwakuni — shielded to the west by mountainous terrain — at 5 a.m. Monday, packing sustained winds of 75 mph and 92 mph gusts at its center.