Typhoon season starts on Okinawa|
Posted 6/11/2007 Updated 6/11/2007
by Master Sgt. Jeff Loftin
18th Wing Public Affairs
6/11/2007 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- June 1 marked the official start of typhoon season, and base officials are urging Team Kadena to be prepared for what could be a busy season.
"We are in a region where typhoons can develop anywhere around us," said 1st Lt. Kevin Bourne, wing weather officer. "Should one begin to develop fairly close we would definitely be affected within 72 hours."
Kadena went into Typhoon Condition of Readiness 4 with the start of typhoon season. TCCOR 4 indicates that destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible within 72 hours. As a precautionary measure, Okinawa remains in TCCOR 4 from June to November.
"In the Pacific region we average about 30 storms a year," said Lieutenant Bourne. "Typically, Okinawa sees about five storms a year. We've been very quiet the past couple of years. We only went into TCCOR 1E three times last year, which is below average. The year before that I think we only had one storm, but two years ago we had 14 storms. So, it's really hard to tell number-wise what is going to happen.
"All of these can be pretty severe," he said. "Last year we had one that went by us that was packing 110 knots. It just happened to track a little to the east and we only picked up 57 knots of it. These storms wobble when they move. If it had wobbled to the west when it went by us we would have gotten significantly stronger winds."
Tropical cyclones have caused much destruction in the past. For example, in 2004 Typhoon Songda caused nearly a million dollars in damage here. Weather officials warn tropical cyclones tend to be stronger in the Pacific than the Atlantic because they have more room to build and move. The storms also increase in strength as they pass through areas with warmer waters adding to the danger.
"There is a lot of warm water around Okinawa," said Lieutenant Bourne. "Warm water is a cyclone's energy. As long as you have warm water around you're susceptible. The water around here is often 84 degrees."
Since the danger is there, base officials urge residents to get ready for these storms.
"Typhoon preparation is very, very important," said 1st Lt. Craig Henry, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness officer. "Most people overlook it until the last minute. Any precautions you can take will help you weather the storm."
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii tracks all tropical storms and puts out a forecasted track every six hours. Base members can get up-to-date weather information by calling 634-4081, or from the Kadena Web site or from the AMC flight information television channel. Officials ask residents not to call the base weather flight for information on the storms as this takes away from their storm coverage.
The following are preparation tips for each tropical cyclone condition of readiness.
Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible within 72 hours.
-- Stock up on food, bottled water, flashlights, candles and other typhoon supplies.
-- Secure items inside before going on leave or on temporary duty.
Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible within 48 hours.
-- Inventory all supplies.
-- Prepare and fill water containers.
-- Select the most centralized room in the house for a living area during the storm.
-- Fill privately owned vehicle gas tanks in case evacuation or relocation becomes necessary, or Army and Air Force Exchange Service gas pumps are damaged.
-- Pre-position emergency rations and supplies.
-- Initiate a general clean-up around residence and office. Remove all loose items outside and secure them. Civil engineers usually travel throughout the base to ensure items, such as playground equipment, are put away or secured, but this requires cooperation from base residents.
Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 24 hours.
-- Continue to monitor storm progress.
-- Have enough money, in dollars and yen, on hand in case evacuation is required.
-- Locate all utility shut-off points and prepare for immediate shut-off if necessary.
-- Re-check outside areas for loose items. Housing residents are responsible for securing their quarters and all items outside the home. Some of these items include: outdoor toys, barbecue grills, trash cans, etc. Residents in towers also need to bring items from the balconies inside.
Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 12 hours.
-- Fill bathtub with water for sanitation needs and for firefighting during the storm.
-- Minimize opening freezers and refrigerators to retain cooling in case of power loss.
-- Move high-value items to a central point in quarters to prevent damage.
-- Check emergency lights and flashlights.
-- Limit outside activities.
-- Continue to monitor storm progress.
-- If a fire hazard exists or power fails, turn off electricity, water and gas until power returns.
-- No school for Department of Defense Dependent Schools. Children will return home or remain at home.
-- Refuse collection services are terminated. Occupants must secure their own garbage, trash cans and bulk items until "All Clear" announcement is made.
TCCOR 1 Caution
Destructive winds are anticipated to reach 50 knots or more within 12 hours. Actual winds of 34 to 49 knots are occurring.
-- All non-mission-essential people remain indoors and be at their residence unless required to be at duty stations.
-- Discontinue all outdoor activities except those in direct support of urgent military missions.
-- The base exchange, commissary and all other AAFES facilities close.
-- DoDDS schools remain closed.
-- Secure all doors and windows.
TCCOR 1 Emergency
Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are occurring.
-- All outside activities are prohibited. Restrict outdoor movement to life-saving response actions.
-- Get flashlights ready in case of power failure. Stay tuned to American Forces Network radio and television channels.
TCCOR 1 Recovery
The base is no longer experiencing destructive winds of 50 knots or greater. Actual winds are 34 to 49 knots. Widespread damage and hazards may still exist.
-- Non-essential functions remain closed.
-- No outdoor activity is authorized other than workers from predesignated emergency crews.
-- TCCOR 1 Recovery Mission-Essential passes, issued to only mission-essential agencies, must be in the driver's possession before attempting to travel on Kadena.
-- Make a list of all items that were needed and forgotten so they will be available for the next time.
-- DoDDS schools remain closed.
The base is still experiencing the effects of the typhoon. Hazardous conditions may still exist due to storm damage.
-- Unit commanders will predesignate a damage assessment team to return to work immediately upon declaration of Storm Watch. Damage assessment teams will survey their work areas and report damage and hazards to the Civil Engineer Consolidated Control Center.
-- Everyone will return to work within two hours from the time Storm Watch is declared unless otherwise instructed by their commander.
-- DoDDS teachers and staff will return to work during normal work hours, but students will not report until "All Clear" unless otherwise instructed.
All clear is announced when hazards are cleared. However, be alert to possible damage and hazardous road conditions. DoDDS teachers, staff and students will return to school during normal hours.