Rains from tropical disturbance drench Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Bad weather associated with a tropical disturbance northwest of Okinawa pummeled the island for 36 hours with 40-mph gusts and more than 11 inches of rain on Friday and Saturday weather officials said.
The disturbance — described as a “poor” area for tropical cyclone development by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center — was moving north-northeast and did not appear to be a threat to Okinawa. However, the island’s weather picture looks bleak until at least early this week.
Forecasts say the breezy conditions and rain are expected to gradually taper off by early Monday, said Capt. Jonathan Wilson, commanding officer of Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight. Japanese Web weather forecasts predict rain continuing through Monday, with a 50 percent chance of showers into Tuesday.
Early Saturday, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued a tropical cyclone formation alert because of the disturbance that zigzagged west and northwest of Okinawa on Friday and Saturday. The alert, issued at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, was canceled 14 hours later.
The storm would have probably only become a “tropical depression at most” and tracked toward South Korea, Wilson said. Officials at Chinhae Naval Base, along Korea’s southeast coast, and Sasebo in southwestern Japan were aware of the storm and monitoring it, Naval Forces Korea spokeswoman Lt. Jessica Gandy and Sasebo spokesman Chuck Howard said.
On Okinawa, intermittent showers began falling early Friday, turning into seemingly ceaseless downpours throughout Saturday.
At 6 p.m., 18th Wing Weather Flight officials had measured nearly 11½ inches of rain since it began falling at 9 a.m. Friday “with more to come,” Wilson said.
There were no immediate reports of damage or significant flooding, said Kadena’s 18th Wing spokeswoman Maj. Dani Johnson and Marine Corps Base Camp Butler spokesman 1st Lt. Garron Garn.
Johnson said Kadena’s 718th Civil Engineering Squadron reported some minor flooding on the base, but they were sending out teams to clear storm drains.
Off base, Okinawa prefecture’s Disaster Prevention Office reported seven landslides in Nishihara, Chatan, Uruma and Nakagusuku in the south-central part of the island. No injuries were reported.
Ten residents of three families in Urasoe evacuated, while 102 familes were ordered evacuated and 11 others were given evacuation advisories. Two vehicles were stalled in Naha and Uruma on water-covered roads.
Stars and Stripes reporters Dave Ornauer and Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.
Other Pacific weather disturbances
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center was keeping an eye on two other areas of concern, one of which dissipated by mid-evening Saturday.
A disturbance east of Iwo Jima was declared by JTWC at 8:30 p.m. no longer a threat to become a tropical cyclone. The other disturbance, about 750 miles southeast of Okinawa, was moving northwest with winds estimated between 17 and 23 mph.
That disturbance was listed by the JTWC as a “fair area,” meaning a fair chance of it developing into a tropical cyclone within 24 hours. The system northwest of Okinawa was downgraded by the JTWC to a “poor area.”
The disturbance near Iwo Jima could continue moving west and “give us what we’ve seen the past couple of days,” Capt. Jonathan Wilson, commanding officer of Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight, said.
Of the storm farther southeast, it’s “too early” to tell what it will do, Wilson said.
— Stars and Stripes