Typhoon Soudelor skirts Okinawa, heads for mainland Japan
Stars and Stripes June 20, 2003
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Typhoon Soudelor brushed by Okinawa causing little more than a lost workday Wednesday.
Blustery winds and spatterings of rain were all the typhoon offered Okinawa, as the storm skirted far west of the island Wednesday night. Winds were strong but not particularly damaging, and rainfall was less than that of a typical rainy day on the subtropical island.
There were no reports of damage on Okinawa bases. Still, military officials weren’t taking chances: Area bases were shut down early Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
Okinawa bases went into Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1 (Caution) about 10 a.m. Wednesday. Under TC-1C, all base activities are halted, and only essential personnel are required to remain on duty. Skies remained sunny throughout most of the day as winds picked up. The first bands of rain showers passed over around 3:30 p.m., but the rain didn’t last long.
Weather forecasters at Kadena’s Weather Flight said winds reached only 47 mph on the air base, and only slightly higher in Naha — 54 mph. Rainfall was measured in at just over a half inch at 8 a.m. Thursday, two hours after Okinawa went into TC-4. Okinawa bases stay in TC-4 throughout the summer because of the ability for tropical storms to rapidly form.
Okinawa bases got off easy mostly because Typhoon Soudelor steered clear of the island. The closest track plotted the eye of the storm at 257 miles west of Okinawa. At that distance, only the outer bands of the storm reached the shore. Still, it was enough for authorities to list sea conditions for both east and west side of Okinawa as Red, meaning all water activities are forbidden. At the storm’s center, 97 mph winds, gusting to 120, whipped the ocean’s surface.
After entering TCCOR One at midnight Thursday, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, received its worst weather from Typhoon Soudelor between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.
The base endured driving rain and sustained winds from 44 to 49 mph with gusts up to 63 mph.
At about 11 a.m., Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Kawczk, a typhoon forecaster with the Naval Pacific Meteorological and Oceanography Detachment in Sasebo, said the center of the typhoon was located about 44 miles west of the base.
“It is moving in a northeastward direction now, but earlier it took an unexpected northwestward path, which spared us the worst of it,” Kawczk said.
No serious damage or injuries were reported as of noon Thursday, according to base spokesman Chuck Howard.
Greg Tyler contributed to this report.