Okinawa bases go to TCCOR 1
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — U.S. military bases on Okinawa braced for the onslaught of Typhoon Dianmu on Saturday, but residents already were breathing a sigh of relief as the storm lost its “super” status.
“It was a powerful storm, but it lost strength as it moved over colder water approaching Okinawa,” Senior Airman Lyndsey Gibson, a forecaster with the 18th Weather Flight, said Saturday night. “The storm is also going to pass a little further to the east than we plotted yesterday.”
Super typhoons are tropical cyclones muscled with sustained winds of 190 mph or greater. By midday Saturday, Dianmu, Chinese for “Mother of Lightning,” had weakened to winds blowing at a steady 138 mph at its center and gusts up to 167 mph.
All military bases on Okinawa went into Typhoon Condition of Readiness 1 at 3:16 p.m. Saturday, bracing for typhoon-strength winds to hit the island within 12 hours. Base stores remained open throughout the day and were crowded with last-minute shoppers stocking up on emergency supplies.
Traffic remained normal outside the bases most of the day Saturday, with some people visiting the shore to view waves whipped up by the approaching storm.
Surfers were out in force off the east coast, resulting in one fatality.
Okinawa police said Noriyuki Shintani, 32, a Japan Self-Defense Force member, went missing while boardsailing off Hyakuna Beach in southern Okinawa about 8:30 a.m. Saturday. A helicopter from the 11th Japan coast guard headquarters spotted Shintani floating on the sea about 430 yards offshore.
Crewmembers from a local fire station retrieved his body. He was declared dead at the scene.
All flights at Kadena Air Base were canceled Saturday. Several incoming flights from mainland Japan also were scrapped at Naha International Airport, but flights to the mainland were still leaving Saturday afternoon. All commercial ferry traffic to mainland Japan and the southern Ryukyu Islands also was canceled Saturday.
The 18th Weather Flight predicted that typhoon-strength winds of 57 mph or greater would start hitting the island about midnight and continue until 4 p.m. Sunday. All outside movement on the bases during that time would be restricted.
The strongest winds were expected to peak at 92 mph about 6 a.m. Sunday.
“The storm is beginning to move a bit faster than originally forecast, so it should be all over in a day,” Gibson said. TCCOR 1-Recovery is expected to be declared by 4 p.m. Sunday.
Gibson said the storm’s eye would make its closet approach some 100 miles to the east at 8 a.m. Sunday.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast Dianmu to weaken as it spins north at 13 mph and encounters colder waters on its way north to Kyushu in southern Japan. The storm is expected to pass within 120 miles of Sasebo by 10 a.m. Monday, with winds of 86-105 mph at its center.
A weakened Dianmu is expected to pass within 16 miles of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station by 2 p.m. Monday, with 69-86 mph winds.