Typhoon Fitow hits Kanto Plain bases
By VINCE LITTLE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 8, 2007
Typhoon Fitow brought heavy rains and intense winds to U.S. military installations on the Kanto Plain early Friday after slamming onshore in Shizuoka Prefecture near Camp Fuji.
The storm toppled trees, scattered leaves and branches and caused brief power outages at area bases as it moved across the region. On the west side of Yokota, a large tree fell onto a van parked across the street from Yokota West Elementary School.
Maj. Jonathan Leffler, commander of the 374th Operations Support Squadron's weather flight at Yokota Air Base, said U.S. bases on the Kanto Plain should be at Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness All-Clear by 8 a.m. Friday.
At 7:30 a.m., Yokosuka Naval Base remained in TCCOR 1-Emergency with wind gusts up to 60 mph along with heavy rain. Officials there clocked winds at 85 mph earlier, Leffler said.
The strongest winds at Tokyo's Haneda Airport were 74 mph during the typhoon's peak. Atsugi Naval Air Facility had a 58 mph gust, while Yokota topped out at 44 mph.
Leffler said more than 8 inches of rain fell at Yokota since Tuesday night, including some precipitation before Fitow's arrival.
At 7:30 a.m. Friday, the typhoon had moved north of Tokyo to Utsunomiya Prefecture. Military forecasters said the storm could generate 58 mph winds and rainshowers at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan before tapering off around 3 p.m. Friday.
Most servicemembers and nonmission-essential personnel were dismissed around noon Thursday at Yokota Air Base, Camp Zama, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Yokosuka Naval Base and Camp Zama as the storm approached. Officials said delays in reporting for duty Friday were possible and urged personnel to tune in to the American Forces Network and commander’s access channels for updates.
All Department of Defense Dependents Schools at Yokota, Yokosuka, Zama and Atsugi were scheduled to be closed Friday.
Paula Miller, chief of staff for the Japan district superintendent’s office, said base commanders and DODDS administrators planned to make a decision early Friday morning for students at Yokosuka, Zama and Atsugi.
Base exchanges, commissaries, shoppettes and clubs on Tokyo-area bases were shut down by mid-afternoon Thursday. It was uncertain how quickly they might reopen Friday.
Capt. Chris Watt, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman, said Services and Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities at Yokota hoped to open doors again at 9 a.m., but that depended on fallout from the storm.
Fitow disrupted flights and train service Thursday as it crept toward Honshu, Kyodo News reported. All Nippon Airways canceled all flights between Tokyo’s Haneda airport and airports in the Izu island chain in the Pacific.
The Central Japan Railway Company also temporarily halted runs on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line between Shin-Fuji and Kakegawa stations in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chris Fowler contributed to this story.
Most of DODDS sports washed out
Wind and heavy rain associated with Typhoon Fitow forced high schools on military bases in Japan to postpone sports events scheduled for this weekend, officials said Thursday afternoon.
The Nile C. Kinnick at Zama American football game, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, was called off, Kinnick athletics director Nicolas Hindie said. No immediate makeup date was announced, although Hindie said he was trying to reschedule it for Monday.
Also, E.J. King’s tennis team, slated to play at Kinnick and Zama this weekend, canceled its trip to the Kanto Plain, Hindie said.
The matches likely will not be rescheduled.
This weekend is the first full weekend of athletic events for DODDS throughout the Pacific.
Athletics officials at other schools were waiting until Friday morning to make decisions on scheduled events, Hindie said.
Yokota’s football team was scheduled to visit the American School In Japan for ASIJ’s first Friday night game. ASIJ athletics director John Smith said a decision would be made early Friday morning.
Tokyo wasn’t the only area affected by bad weather. On Wednesday, Osan American athletics director and football coach Tony Alvarado announced that Friday’s Seoul American at Osan American game was called off due to weeklong heavy rain and wet grounds.