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Storm runoff pours into a stream on Camp Foster Thursday. Okinawa's six-week rainy season began Wednesday. Island officials hope there'll be enough rain to shelve plans for water rationing following a dry winter.
Storm runoff pours into a stream on Camp Foster Thursday. Okinawa's six-week rainy season began Wednesday. Island officials hope there'll be enough rain to shelve plans for water rationing following a dry winter. (David Allen / S&S)

NAHA, Okinawa — Get out your raincoats and umbrellas: The rainy season officially has begun on Okinawa.

The Okinawa Meteorological Agency announced that the annual rains returned to Okinawa on Wednesday, three days earlier than average and 10 days earlier than the start of last year’s rainy season.

However, it’s too early to breathe a sigh of relief and put away the extra water you stored for the island’s water-rationing plans.

“Although the rainy season has started, there has been no substantial rainfall that would drastically change the present water condition,” said Sakae Ito of the Okinawa General Bureau, a national government agency that manages six of the nine major reservoirs on Okinawa.

“The severe water situation on Okinawa remains the same,” said Ito, a member of the Okinawa Drought Countermeasure Council.

The weather observatory announced Wednesday that the six-week rainy season had begun a tad early with a half-inch of rain falling overnight.

“A rain front dominates near Okinawan waters and cloudy days with rain showers are expected during the coming week,” a forecaster said.

The weather bureau predicted an average rainfall of about 17.8 inches during the rainy season.

Ito said members of the Drought Countermeasures Council are cautiously optimistic that water-rationing can be shelved this year. Overnight rationing was scheduled for March 29 but got canceled after a weekend deluge. Voluntary water-conservation measures remain in effect on U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

“According to the weather forecast, an average rainfall is expected during the rainy season, but this is still a prediction, and not for sure,” Ito said. “We won’t know for sure until it actually happens.

“Until then, the situation does not allow any optimism. While hopeful, we are still asking people to continue to conserve water.”

As of Thursday, the average water level in the nine reservoirs was 49.4 percent capacity.

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