MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Those were rays of sunlight burning through the sullen overcast here Monday afternoon, even if they lasted for but a few precious minutes.

Misawa — and a large portion of northern Honshu — haven’t enjoyed a really sunny day since June 22. Temperatures that weekend rose into the mid-80s — typical of the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Since then, the daily weather menu here has offered up slate gray skies, rain, thick morning fog — and temperatures struggling to rise much above the upper 50s during the daytime.

“They turned the heat off too soon,” said Tech. Sgt. Kim Tobiere, who lives on the air base. “I’m using four blankets on my bed to keep warm.”

Her lunch partner, Tech. Sgt. Shawn Smith, who’s been at Misawa the past five years, called the weather “unusual even for Misawa.”

“I don’t recall it being this cold this time of year,” he said. “I think its going to last a while, too.”

Takahiro Kagawa, a weather forecaster at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Aomori observatory, confirmed the trend: “Since around June 25, the temperature has been 7 degrees lower in many places.”

Capt. Steve Barlow, 35th Operations Support Group weather flight commander, said Misawa’s mercury bottomed out June 6 at 41 degrees, but it wasn’t a record low. Misawa’s record low for June was in 1985, when the temperature dropped to 37 degrees, according to climate records.

Blame weather systems dragging cool air from over ocean waters as the culprit for the current spate of cool weather.

“High atmospheric pressure in the Sea of Okhotsk causes a cold east wind to blow,” Kagawa said.

Japanese call the weather phenomenon yamase, or east wind, and it’s usually accompanied by fresh ocean breezes that pull thick sea fog and drizzle inland.

It’s been affecting flight operations at Misawa Air Base, too.

For most of last week, persistent sea fog kept ceilings below the minimum 200-300 feet necessary for safe F-16 flight operations.

July doesn’t promise to be any better for aviators.

“Historically, we lose almost 40 percent of scheduled sorties during July,” said Col. Jeff Stambaugh, 35th Operations Group commander. “It’s cyclical, and some years can be pretty tough.”

Monday, the sortie scoreboard sign on base near the bank showed Misawa’s 13th and 14th Fighter squadrons were 30 sorties behind June’s normal flying schedule.

“Sea fog did hit us in late June,” Stambaugh said, “and to sit on us all week was a little unusual and added to the minus numbers.”

Low ceilings aren’t affecting Navy P-3 Orion missions being flown by the “Skinny Dragons” of Patrol Squadron-4, now deployed to Misawa from Kanehoe Bay, Hawaii.

“We can fly operational missions with 100-foot ceilings and a quarter-mile visibility conditions,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jack Thomas. “The weather is affecting some of our training missions when we like to have visual flight rules with at least 1,000 ceilings and three nautical miles visibility.”

Misawa and northern Japan aren’t out of the woods yet.

The tsuyu, or rainy season, that officially started June 12 in northern Japan is still under way.

Although JMA no longer forecasts when the rainy season ends, Kagawa said, based on historical weather records, it usually concludes around July 27.

— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

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