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Environment

Meanwhile, Out in the Pacific Ocean... Meet Tropical Storm 08W, a Possible Threat to Japan

ImaGeoBy Tom YulsmanJuly 4, 2014 3:18 AM
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Tropical Storm 08W is seen swirling in the Pacific Ocean about 160 nautical miles southwest of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. (Source: Cooperative Institute for Satellite Meteorology.) As Hurricane Arthur begins to lash the North Carolina coast with high winds and storm surges, another cyclone is brewing — this one in the Pacific Ocean. Today, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center upgraded it from a tropical depression to a tropical storm. Designated as Tropical Storm 08W, it is now located southwest of Guam and is expected to strengthen into a full-fledged typhoon on Saturday. (For an explanation of the different terminology used for tropical cyclones, see this.) As the animation above shows, the storm is forecast to track northwest, and then begin to curve to the north-northeast. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, it should reach a peak intensity of up to 120 miles per hour, which would make it a very powerful typhoon indeed.

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Tropical Storm 08W is seen off the coast of Guam in this image captured by the MTSAT weather satellite on Thursday, July 3, 2014. (Source: NOAA) The storm is of concern because its forecast track takes it north toward land. But the typhoon center cautions that confidence in the track is low right now, in part because of uncertainty about when the storm will begin to curve.

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Source: Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Even so, have a look at the cone of uncertainty in the animation above. And click on the thumbnail at right for an even more detailed view. If the storm curves toward the eastern side of the cone, it might avoid land. If it doesn't, it's hard to see how it doesn't make landfall. If the storm tracks right down the middle, it might hit Japan on July 8. The typhoon center's forecast pegs the storm's intensity at that point at almost 110 miles per hour, with gusts to more than 130. That's many days away now, so for now we should take that forecast with a grain of salt. But in four days, we could be looking at another landfalling tropical cyclone.

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