Typhoon Tokage changes course away from Marianas
Stars and Stripes October 16, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Tokage became a full-fledged typhoon overnight Wednesday and appeared to be changing course as it continued to steer away from the Marianas Islands on Thursday.
A day after weather officials forecast the 27th tropical storm of the season to head north and east of Okinawa by Sunday, it now is projected to pass more than 300 miles southwest of Okinawa by Tuesday.
Other than sparing the island from another weekend of wind and rain — unlike the last six storms that happened nearby — Tokage’s vital signs left officials at Kadena Air Base’s 18th Weather Flight unwilling to make any firm guarantees.
“It’s still in the early stages,” Tech. Sgt. Robert Fournier said of the 2-day-old storm, named for the Japanese word for the constellation Lacerta, or “lizard.”
“We’re still not quite sure what’s going to influence it the most, northern latitude weather systems or if it will be strong enough to stay moving west and south. For Kadena, it’s still five days out, to see where it will develop and go.”
At 3 p.m. Thursday, Tokage was packing sustained winds of 92 mph and gusts up to 115 mph as it slowed to a crawl and crept away from the Marianas. At 9 p.m. Thursday, it was moving west northwest at 10.5 mph, about 8 mph slower than on Wednesday.
If it continues to move as projected, Tokage is forecast to pass 363 miles southwest of Okinawa at 9 p.m. Tuesday, packing sustained winds of 132 mph and gusting up to 161 mph at its center.
Tokage is the seventh tropical storm in the last three months to lurk near, threaten or actually strike the island. But the good news, for the moment, is that unlike the previous six storms, this one likely won’t affect the weekend.
“We’ll see some isolated showers,” Fournier said, “but for the most part, it should be a pretty good weekend. Gusty winds, but pretty much the same weather we’ve been having.”
But as a reminder that typhoon season is at least a month from being over, yet another tropical disturbance already is forming on the horizon.
The as-yet-unnamed tropical depression was spawned Wednesday near Eniwetok, in the Marshall Islands. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s Web site says it will develop into a typhoon by Saturday and track west toward the Marianas.
“We’re not even taking a look at that yet,” Fournier said.