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Ewiniar weakened into a tropical depression as it skirted over South Korea on Monday, bringing as much as 10½ inches of rain and winds of up to 58 mph to southern portions of the Korean peninsula, U.S. military weather officials said.

Five South Koreans were killed and one was missing as a result of the storm, South Korea’s SBS TV network reported Monday.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Bilis continued moving northwest away from Guam, but weather officials at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, indicated Monday that storm would track toward Taiwan and China, keeping Okinawa well out of harm’s way.

Ewiniar, the fourth storm of the northwest Pacific’s tropical cyclone season, first struck Korea at Jeju, an island about 50 miles south of the peninsula, on Monday morning. Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1 was canceled at 2 p.m. Monday, a U.S. Forces Korea spokesman said.

The storm reached the mainland at 3 p.m. Monday near Kunsan Air Base, packing sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts up to 52 at its center, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Chinhae Naval Base on the southeast coast felt sustained winds of 58 mph and several inches of rain fell in the area, said Capt. Christopher Avery, chief of weather support for the 607th Weather Squadron in Seoul.

The rest of the peninsula received rain and occasional gusts, but not much beyond what it normally experiences during summer rainy season. Operations at U.S. bases went on as normal Monday, a USFK spokesman said.

“The trees were waving at us, (but) it was just an average, run-of-the-mill bad-weather day,” USFK spokesman Dave Palmer said.

Ewiniar cut across the Korean peninsula quickly, rapidly losing its punch as it passed 8 miles east of Osan Air Base at 7 p.m. and 18 miles east of Yongsan Garrison at 8 p.m. The JTWC forecast Ewiniar to exit the peninsula into the Sea of Japan and continue toward Vladivistok in southeastern Russia.

Far to the southeast, Bilis remained on track to pass well out of Okinawa’s way. JTWC’s forecast calls for Bilis’ closest point of approach to be 348½ miles south of Okinawa at 1 a.m. Friday, packing sustained winds of 86 mph and gusts of up to 104 mph at its center.

That same forecast calls for Bilis to graze northern Taiwan on Friday evening, then make landfall over southeastern China at 9 p.m. Saturday.

A strong high pressure ridge extending over Okinawa is causing the storm to track west toward China, but “anything can happen” over the next few days, said Senior Airman Matthew Mattern, a duty forecaster with the 18th Weather Flight at Kadena Air Base.

Military forecasters were monitoring Bilis, though they said it was too soon to predict whether it would threaten Korea beyond this week.

“We are keeping an eye on it,” Avery said. “It does have the potential to come up to the peninsula.”

Bilis was 661 miles south-southeast of Naha, Okinawa’s prefectural capital, at midnight Monday, moving west-northwest at 11½ mph, packing sustained winds of 52 mph and gusts of up to 63 mph.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.
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