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Okinawa troops bracing for Super Typhoon Nabi

Shoppers wait in line to check out of the Kadena commissary on Friday in advance of the approach of Super-typhoon Nabi. The powerful storm is expected to slam into the northern part of Okinawa late Monday, packing winds of 161 mph and gusts up to 196.

DAVE ORNAUER / S&S

Kadena preparing for lock-down as storm closes in on island

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 4, 2005

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Base residents from Camp Kinser to Camp Hansen flocked to commissaries to stock up on essentials and began securing yard items Friday as Nabi strengthened into a super typhoon and continued making a beeline toward a midday Monday arrival.

Kadena’s 18th Wing commanding officer, Brig. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, put the island in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 at 11 a.m. Friday. Officials at Kadena’s 18th Weather Flight said residents should prepare for a lock-down of up to two days starting as early as Sunday night.

“It’s pretty big,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Wilson, 18th Weather Flight’s lead meteorologist, of a storm that stretches 805 miles and sports an eye 58 miles across, with sustained winds in excess of 160 mph.

Equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, Nabi has the potential to turn into a dangerous projectile “anything that one person could pick up and move,” Wilson said.

“Just about anything that’s loose,” he said. “It will push vehicles around if you’re driving. Anything you don’t want moved around, move it inside or lash it down, make sure it’s bolted to the ground. You don’t want it picked up and thrown through a window.”

Weather and base officials stressed that all personnel should remain inside at the storm’s height, whether living on base or off. “I would plan to stay indoors for a good 36 to 48 hours,” Wilson said.

In advance of the storm, commissaries at Kadena and nearby Camp Foster swelled with shoppers, some of whom stood in check-out lines for more than an hour. Their carts bulged with bottled water, milk and bread, which were being purchased faster than shelves could be restocked.

Kadena commissary administrator Doug Cook said he expected his store to do $380,000 in business over Thursday and Friday, when normally it takes in $200,000 over two days. His 70-person staff spent much of Friday trying to restock shelves.

“That’s what we do,” he said. “We’re doing what we can to help people prepare.”

“It was incredible,” said store grocery manager Scott Holt. “And to top it off, our debit-credit computer system is down and the ATMs nearby ran out of money.”

Residents were advised to finish general home cleanup and have all loose items locked down by noon Saturday, an hour after the island was expected to upgrade to TCCOR 2.

Wilson said TCCOR 1 could be declared around 11 a.m. Sunday, with TCCOR 1C (caution) and TCCOR 1E (emergency) to follow Sunday night “unless something changes.”

What might change, he said, is the storm’s precise closest point of approach. Nabi’s forecast track varied northward by 15 miles from Thursday to Friday. Upper- atmosphere steering wind flow might push the storm further south, which could bring 127 mph winds to Kadena. If it stays on its current track, it would hit the northern end of the island with winds between 98-109 mph.

At midnight Friday, Nabi was 673 miles southeast of Okinawa, churning west-northwest at 10 mph, packing sustained winds of 150 mph and gusts up to 184. Those are forecast to increase to 167 and 201 as the storm remains over warm water Sunday and Monday. If it remains on its current forecast track, Nabi’s center will pass 69 miles north of Kadena at noon Monday, bringing sustained winds of 161 mph and gusts up to 196.


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