Typhoon Tokage pelts Okinawa, moves toward Japan
Stars and Stripes October 21, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — After lashing Okinawa with high winds and heavy rain, Typhoon Tokage, rapidly losing strength and picking up directional speed, headed toward Japan’s Kyushu island late Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Typhoon Nock-Ten kept tracking gradually southward, and it appeared the 28th storm of the northwest Pacific typhoon season might spare Guam and other Marianas Islands from its nastiest weather.
Tokage turned hard toward the northeast Tuesday morning after tracking northwest for several days before, drenching Okinawa from Itoman to Cape Hedo with sheet after sheet of rain.
Kadena Air Base recorded more than 4 inches of rain and wind gusts as high as 72 mph at 11:55 a.m., said 1st Lt. John Hurley of Kadena’s 18th Weather Flight. One wind gust of 89 mph was reported at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, 10 miles southwest of Kadena.
“The storm is picking up a little speed and is diminishing in strength,” Hurley said. “The water temperature is in the mid-70s. Not a good environment for a tropical storm.”
U.S. bases on Okinawa entered Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-Caution at 3:25 a.m. and Condition 1-Emergency at 5:05 a.m., after which outside activity was prohibited.
There were no reports of damage or injury from U.S. military authorities by midnight Tuesday. Outside the gates, however, everything pretty much shut down.
Naha International Airport closed and more than 260 flights were canceled, stranding at least 32,000 passengers.
Japanese media reported at least six people, many elderly, were hurt. Two suffered head injuries from windblown objects or from being blown over by the wind. Others got their fingers caught in windblown doors.
At least 45 families in six villages were evacuated from their homes to designated shelters.
TV broadcasts and news Web sites showed images of trees blown into the streets of Itoman, south of the prefectural capital of Naha.
Scattered power outages affecting at least 8,400 residences were reported in 22 villages. All ferries and ships were ordered to stay in port. All local schools closed for the day, and bus and monorail services were suspended.
Tokage, a Japanese word for the constellation Lacerta, or lizard, next turned its attention toward Kyushu, home of Sasebo Naval Base, and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station to the north near Hiroshima on Honshu island.
Weather officials at Iwakuni said the base was placed in TCCOR-3 Tuesday afternoon. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast the storm to pass 184 miles east of Sasebo at noon Wednesday and 138 miles east of Iwakuni at 6 p.m. Wednesday, with sustained winds of 69 mph and gusts up to 86 mph at its center.
Next up on Typhoon Alley is Nock-Ten, which was 288 miles southeast of Guam at midnight Guam time Tuesday, tracking due west at 9 mph with sustained winds of 104 mph and gusts up to 127 at its center.
Nock-Ten, a Laotian word for bird, has drifted far enough south that forecasters project it to pass 125 miles south of U.S. Naval Station Guam and 154 miles south of Andersen Air Force Base by 9 p.m. Wednesday, with sustained winds of 127 mph and gusts up to 155 mph.
No warnings were posted for Guam by the National Weather Service as of Tuesday evening. The Pacific Daily News reported that winds of up to 70 mph were expected on the south part of the island and less than 58 mph elsewhere.
Greg Tyler contributed to this report.