West Pacific Update: #Okinawa, #Taiwan, #China

While the Atlantic remains quiet, and the East Pacific has two decaying storms (Felicia is rapidly falling apart as it enters the Central Pacific, Guillermo on a similar track), the West Pacific has two storms threatening land: Tropical Storm In-Fa should pass south of Okinawa over the next two days before threatening Taiwan then the Chinese coast, and Tropical Storm Cempaka may briefly become a hurricane before making landfall well south of Hong Kong. Here’s the respective damage swaths:

Storms in the WP, Monday 19 July. Click to see larger.

In-Fa is forecast to be a large storm, and should bring tropical storm conditions to Okinawa on Wednesday as it passes 90 miles south of the southern tip of the main island before passing directly over Miyako-jima if it follows the present track. This, and the nearby Ishigaki islands, are an interesting group of islands, and of strategic importance given the tense situation over Taiwan. Japan is increasingly concerned about the security of the Miyako strait (the gap between Okinawa an Miyako), and has been building additional military facilities. There are potentially oil reserves in the area, and ownership of some of the islands in the group is disputed between the People’s Republic of China (Mainland), Republic of China (Taiwan), and Japan. If the PRC decides to invade or blockade Taiwan, as has been discussed more frequently in Chinese military publications of late, an early battle will certainly be fought here.

From a meteorology standpoint, of more concern is what happens next. By the end of the week In-Fa will be somewhere near the northern tip of Taiwan. Small wobbles or changes in intensity will matter a lot with respect to humanitarian and economic impacts. As noted yesterday, this could potentially impact already tight semiconductor (computer chip) supplies as something over 60% of them come from Taiwan. Right now it looks like In-Fa will be weakening by that time back to a category 1 storm (from a peak of Category 2 over Miyako-jima). Will be watching this as the week unfolds …

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