Future Typhoon Fitow now has its sights set on East China instead of mainland Japan. The Korean Peninsula and Japan's Ryukyu Islands, however, still remain in harm's way.
Currently a strong tropical storm, Fitow is expected to become a typhoon before daybreak Thursday local time (sunset Wednesday EDT).
Fitow will continue to strengthen during the next few days as it churns north to northwestward over the warm waters of the Philippine Sea.
Maximum sustained winds within Fitow should peak at around 160 to 175 kph (100 to 110 mph, equal to that of a Category 2 hurricane) Friday or Saturday local time.
Saturday is also when Fitow threatens to bear down on the Japan's central or southern Ryukyu Islands with life-threatening destructive winds and flooding rain.
The worst of the future typhoon's fury is currently aimed at the island of Okinawa, home to the city of Naha and Kadena Air Force Base, but would shift to other islands of the Ryukyu chain if Fitow drifts slightly off course.
While mainland Japan escapes Fitow's most adverse impacts, a band of heavy rain will still spread across southern areas Friday night through Saturday.
Earlier this week, there was concern that Fitow would take aim on South Korea after plowing through the Ryukyu Islands. Fitow should still eventually reach the Korean Peninsula, but not until next week and after it slams East China.
Fitow is now expected to take a more westward track later this weekend, moving into or grazing Zhejiang Province and Shanghai with flooding rain, damaging winds and coastal flooding. Mudslides could also occur in the higher terrain.
This part of China has so far been spared of tropical storms and typhoons this year.
Fitow should be a minimal typhoon (Category 1 hurricane strength) as it approaches East China on Sunday. If Fitow moves inland, the interaction with land would force it to weaken rapidly into a tropical depression or rainstorm through Monday.
A track along the coast should allow Fitow to remain a typhoon through Monday before weakening over the Yellow Sea.
In either case, Fitow will likely curve to the northeast after Monday and take aim at the Korean Peninsula and neighboring parts of China. While there is no question that flooding rain will be a serious concern, the danger of damaging winds will depend on Fitow's strength at this time.