Super Typhoon Vongfong Takes Aim at US Pacific Bases

Super Typhoon Vongfong — the strongest tropical cyclone of the year, equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane — was moving inexorably toward Japan and one of the U.S. military's largest concentrations of manpower and firepower on the islands of Kadena and Okinawa, forecasters said Thursday morning.

The cyclone "intensified explosively," with maximum winds of 165 mph, just as it is about to turn northward toward Japan itself, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, with the U.S. military islands in its sights Saturday and Sunday, followed by landfall on Japan itself sometime Monday night.

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"It's safe to say Vongfong is the strongest storm on earth since Haiyan last year," said Michael Lowry, a storm specialist for The Weather Channel, referring to the super typhoon that killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines last November.

Kadena Air Base — home to 24,000 U.S. and Japanese military personnel and contractors — and the cluster of U.S. bases on Okinawa began stocking up on food, water supplies and fuel, the Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center said Thursday morning, reporting that ocean waves were already as high as 50 feet.