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Typhoon Tokage, or "lizard" in Japanese, was the record eighth typhoon to strike Japan in 2004 when it hit the island nation October 20. At the time this image was taken, Tokage was approximately 20 miles south-southeast of Okinawa and generated winds around 107 mph. Okinawa residents can get typhoon track information on the Joint Typhoon Warning Center's website at http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC. (Courtesy image provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE)
Okinawa lies in the Pacific's "Typhoon Alley." Typhoons, known as hurricanes in the United States, pack powerful winds and can be very destructive. They occur when warm water of the South Pacific Ocean between the Republic of the Philippines and Guam combines with the cool winds in the region.
Once formed, the storms usually travel in a path beginning near Guam, then moves toward the Philippines and Okinawa and before heading north toward mainland Japan or Korea. Most weaken at sea before they reach inland.
Typhoons are most frequent from June to November with as many as 26 typhoons forming in a season. However, usually only three or four pass close enough to Okinawa to be of any concern to people stationed here.
On Okinawa, the greatest number of typhoons is concentrated in August and September. Sophisticated weather forecasting and tracking equipment and reinforced concrete buildings have taken the surprise and most of the danger out of typhoons.
The Kadena weather flight monitors these tropical storms and typhoons, and serves as a focal point for typhoon information on Okinawa as part of the Pacific Command's Tropical Cyclone Warning System.
Warnings of approaching storms, as well as typhoon tips and precautions, are broadcast over American Forces Network-Okinawa radio and television.
Current local weather information, including tropical cyclone conditions of readiness, is available on the Kadena weather flight's homepage and the Kadena Facebook site.
Kadena residents can also get up-to-date pathway projections for typhoons via the Joint Typhoon Warning Center's homepage.
Read the Kadena Air Base Emergency Actions Guide from the base disaster preparedness office for more details on typhoon preparedness.
Expectant mothers should also consult the Camp Lester U.S. Naval Hospital typhoon fact sheet here.
CONDITIONS OF READINESS
Following are Tropical Cyclone (Typhoon) Conditions of Readiness (TCCOR), their meanings and actions to take for safety:
TC-4: Destructive sustained winds of 50 knots or greater possible within 72 hours. Stock up on food, bottled water, dry milk, batteries, flashlights, candles and other emergency supplies. TC-4 stays in affect from June 1 to November 30 every year.
TC-3: Destructive sustained winds of 50 knots or greater expected within 48 hours. Initiate a general clean-up around your home, apartment and office. Pick up loose items, such as toys, garden tools and lawn furniture.
TC-2: Destructive sustained winds of 50 knots or greater anticipated within 24 hours. Secure all outdoor property such as picnic tables, barbecue grills, etc.
TC-1: Destructive sustained winds of 50 knots or greater are expected within 12 hours. DODDs schools will close at this time. Fill any available containers with water. Make a final check of food, water and other supplies.
TC-1 CAUTION: Sustained winds blowing at 34 to 49 knots and are expected to reach 50 knots or more within 12 hours. All outdoor activities, except those in direct support of urgent military missions, will be discontinued. The base exchange and commissary close and all non-mission-essential people should be off the streets and in their residences. All AAFES facilities close.
TC-1 EMERGENCY: Destructive sustained winds of 50 knots or greater occurring. All outside activities are prohibited.
TC-1 RECOVERY: Destructive sustained winds of 50 knots are no longer occurring. Actual winds are 34-49 knots. No outdoor activity is authorized other than workers from pre-designated emergency crews. TCCOR1 recovery Mission-Essential Passes, which are issued to mission-essential agencies only, must be in the driver's possession before attempting to travel on Kadena.
TC - STORM WATCH: There is still a possibility of danger to personnel due to the storm's unpredictability or from hazards created by previous high winds. Normal activities may resume with caution two hours after declaration of STORM WATCH. AAFES facilities and the commissary may reopen as well. Stay tuned to AFN television and radio.
TC - ALL CLEAR: The 18th Wing commander, as Okinawa's senior TCCOR authority, will announce condition "All Clear" when local recovery operations are complete. Outdoor activity and transit between installations are authorized. Hazardous conditions and winds are no longer present, however be alert to possible damage and hazardous conditions on roads, etc. TCCOR-4 stays in effect from June 1 to November 30 every year.
There are some simple but important steps that Airmen and their families should take in preparation for typhoon season. Most importantly, families should have an emergency kit that contains the following items at a minimum:
When a typhoon is imminent, all personnel should:
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Bottled Water (3 days worth - 1 gallon per person per day)
- Non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
- Foods for infants or the elderly
- Snack foods
- Non-electric can opener
- Cooking tools/fuel
- Paper plates/plastic utensils
- First-Aid supplies, Prescriptions
- Battery powered radio (AFN)
- Pet care items
- Towels, rags, mops
- Fill bathtubs with water
- Turn refrigerators/freezers to highest setting
- Secure loose outdoor objects or store them indoors, play sets, bicycles, and other toys, grills, trampolines, storage sheds, tables & chair, trash & recycling containers
- Store bulk trash items indoors if contractor has not picked up by TCCOR 2
- Secure & lock all exterior doors and windows
- Sandbag base of doors - self-help sand bags may be picked up at Eagle Hardware for base housing residents
- Turn off all non-critical electrical items: lights, computers, printers, fans, TVs, etc.
- Fuel your vehicles
- Park vehicles in an area least prone to falling tree limbs and flooding