Typhoon 08W (Neoguri), #35: Okinawa enters Storm Watch

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Typhoon Neoguri is seen in a false-color satellite image taken just before midnight July 4, 2014. NOAA
From Stripes.com
Typhoon Neoguri is seen in a false-color satellite image taken just before midnight July 4, 2014. NOAA

Typhoon 08W (Neoguri), #35: Okinawa enters Storm Watch

by: Dave Ornauer | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: July 09, 2014

Stay informed about the typhoon with Stripes' Pacific Storm Tracker!

2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: Finally. Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Storm Watch was issued for U.S. bases on Okinawa, according to Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight and Kadena’s and AFN Okinawa’s Facebook page. TCCOR SW was issued at 2 p.m. local time.

This comes after the longest TCCOR 1-R (recovery) period since PST began monitoring tropical cyclones in 2010: 15 hours, 15 minutes.

Only mission-essential personnel, as directed by their unit’s command, must report for duty on Wednesday. Duty for all others resumes Thursday.

2 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni has reverted to Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Storm Watch as of 1 p.m. local time. Damaging winds are not forecast, but there’s still the change of danger since Typhoon Neoguri does remain close by and unforeseen changes in storm track and strength. Iwakuni will remain in Storm Watch until further notice, according to its Facebook page.

Also, Fleet Activities Okinawa announced on its Facebook page that CFAO personnel do not have to report for duty unless directed by supervisors (undoubtedly talking mission- and emergency-essential folk only). Normal duty hours will resume Thursday.

12:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: Typhoon Neoguri has diminished sharply in intensity over the last six hours, about 20 knots (23 mph) sustained winds at its center, from 105 knots (121 mph) to 85 (98), and has begun picking up forward speed as it hangs a right toward Kyushu.

Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s latest update shows Neoguri arcing north-northeast at 17 mph, 278 miles southwest of Sasebo Naval Base at noon Wednesday, and making landfall over Kyushu at about 3 a.m. Thursday, 68 miles southeast of Sasebo. It can expect 40- to 46-mph winds and 69-mph gusts but starting around 3 a.m. Thursday, three hours earlier than previous forecasts, given the earlier projected landfall. Virtually all services except for the mess hall will be closed Thursday until Neoguri has passed. The base remains in TCCOR 2.

Neoguri remains on track to pass 108 miles south of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni around 1 p.m. Thursday, five hours earlier than previous forecasts, and the base should get sustained 30-mph winds and gusts between 46 and 52 mph. Iwakuni remains in TCCOR 3.

U.S. bases in the Kanto Plain remain in TCCOR Storm Watch, and can expect sustained 40-mph winds and 51-mph gusts from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Friday, about 1½ hours earlier than anticipated. Neoguri should then exit the Kanto Plain and die out over the northwest Pacific Ocean.

Get your safe on, Japan!

Noon Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: As with any bad tropical cyclone such as Neoguri, residual effects are always felt in the aftermath, and Okinawa took its share right on the chin the last couple of days. As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to the island’s Crisis Management Division:

-- 20 people reported injured, one man seriously in Urasoe.
-- 133,000 families, 323,000 residents remained under evacuation advisory.
-- 75,500 homes remained without power.
-- Highway 58, the main artery which connects every U.S. base from Torii Station to Camp Kinser, was flooded and closed early Wednesday between Kadena and Chatan. Traffic resumed with one northbound lane closed due to several stalled vehicles along the road, according to the South National Highway Office of the Okinawa General Bureau.
-- Seven other roads and bridges on the island remained closed due to safety concerns.
-- Okinawa Expressway remained closed.
-- Uruma City issued an evacuation advisory for residents along the flooding Tengan River near Camp Courtney.
-- In the last 72 hours, Okinawa recorded its highest rainfall level in 10 years. Precipitation amounts follow as of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, from the Japan Meteorological Agency:
Nago, 17.9 inches; Kunigami, 17.4 inches; Koza, 14.4 inches; Naha, 15.7 inches.

10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: Two burning questions have been asked repeatedly on U.S. bases on Okinawa across social media platforms: 1) Why so much rain associated with Typhoon Neoguri, and 2) When, oh, when will Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Storm Watch be issued and the lockdown finally end?

Initial forecasts called for between 5 to 7 inches of rain on Okinawa. But as Neoguri’s east quadrants and feeder bands lingered over the island longer than projected, so, too, did the precipitation figures increase; Okinawa is now forecast to receive up to 34 inches of rain.

Why the spike?

“We had one feeder band from the storm camp out right on top of us,” said Master Sgt. Tonya Trythall of Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight. The way Neoguri was rotating “kept it (feeder band) over us even as it was moving away” from Okinawa.

As for moving into Storm Watch, Trythall said that is pretty much out of everybody’s hands except the Air Force civil engineers, Navy staff civil and other damage assessors, and that’s with any storm. Just so happens, with all the flooding, downed trees and tree limbs, cars shoved sideways or even overturned, the assessment “is taking more time than usual,” Trythall said.

One more line of showers is headed Okinawa’s way, after which, around mid-day, “things should start to get back to normal,” Trythall said.

9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: Looking more and more like the 11 a.m. duty report time for folks at Kadena Air Base was a bit optimistic. Thundershowers continue and there’s much flooding, especially the western portions and in low-lying areas of Okinawa. Please remain indoors while U.S. bases remain in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-R (recovery).

7:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: Patience. Typhoon Neoguri is almost through with Okinawa.

U.S. bases on Okinawa remain in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-R (recovery), as staff civil and recovery teams have fanned out to do damage assessments by daylight now that the sun has risen (even if it can’t be seen through this seemingly endless stream of thundershowers).

Kadena Air Base command has directed a duty report time of 11 a.m., which would indicate that decelerated TCCORs will soon be forthcoming. Also, Naha International Airport plans to resume a normal schedule Wednesday, though some early morning flights were delayed or canceled.

Very important to take special care and watch for flooding, especially in low-lying areas. From an initial projection of 5 to 7 inches of rain, Kadena’s 18th Wing Weather Flight’s final wind forecast timeline indicates between 30 and 34 inches when it’s all said and done.

Maximum sustained winds felt on Okinawa as a whole were 74 mph with 113-mph gusts at 2:29 p.m. Tuesday. Strongest winds on Kadena were 74-mph sustained with 101-mph gusts. Closest point of approach was 118½ miles west at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Sasebo Naval Base is due next for a visit by Neoguri. Fleet Activities Sasebo’s Facebook page said Neoguri will decrease in strength and move further south of the base than previously forecast. Sasebo can expect sustained 40- to 46-mph winds and 69-mph gusts between 6 a.m. and noon Thursday. Virtually all services except for the mess hall will be closed Thursday until Neoguri has passed. The base remains in TCCOR 2.

Neoguri remains on track to pass 108 miles south of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni around 6 p.m. Thursday, and the base should get sustained 30-mph winds and gusts between 46 and 52 mph. Iwakuni remains in TCCOR 3.

U.S. bases in the Kanto Plain are in TCCOR Storm Watch and can expect sustained 40-mph winds and 51-mph gusts from 8-11 a.m. on Friday. Neoguri should then exit the Kanto Plain and die out over the northwest Pacific Ocean.

5:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: A long band of showers and thunderstorms continues to persist right over Okinawa, where U.S. bases remain in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-R (recovery). No doubt, a shift to TCCOR SW (Storm Watch) will likely wait until after daybreak, when recovery crews and staff civil can complete their damage assessments during daylight hours. Kinda tough to do at night. Patience. This will soon pass.

All other wind parameters for Kanto, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Sasebo Naval Base remain virtually the same, though Typhoon Neoguri will dip a bit further south of the latter two after it makes a sharp curve east, then begin a swift move through Kyusku and along Japan’s east coast before terminating in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

U.S. bases in the Kanto Plain remain in TCCOR Storm Watch.

1:45 a.m. Wednesday, July 9, Japan time: Recovery process continues for Okinawa, while all eyes now focus on Neoguri’s curve northeast toward Sasebo Naval Base, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and U.S. bases on the Kanto Plain.

Bases on Okinawa remain in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-R (recovery). Sasebo remains in TCCOR 2 with upgrade to TCCOR 1 anticipated by 6 a.m. Wednesday. Iwakuni remains in TCCOR 3; debatable whether Iwakuni will upgrade, considering Neoguri should track well south of the air station. Kanto bases should get a brief visit from Neoguri as it blasts through as a significant but diminishing tropical storm.

PST cannot emphasize enough, TCCOR 1-R doesn’t mean it’s safe to frolic outside in the dark of night on Okinawa, where recovery crews and staff civil have fanned out to look for downed trees, tree limbs and power lines, flooding and other things that pose a danger to folks, be they on base or off. Only emergency-essential crews should be out and about at this point.

AFN television service on base on Okinawa is back up and operational. Says to PST that power to Plaza Housing, which went off for several hours, is back up as well. For those still without power, give it time; staff civil is working it vigorously and will have it up in no time.

Neoguri should next pay a visit to Kyushu and pass about 81 miles southeast of Sasebo at 10 a.m. Thursday. Sasebo will likely at most get 52- and 63-mph sustained winds and 86-mph gusts at Neoguri’s closest point of approach.

Iwakuni should be ever further out of harm’s way; Neoguri should pass 110 miles southeast around 6 p.m. Thursday, and the base should get sustained 30-mph winds and gusts between 46 and 52 mph..

While Neoguri will venture much closer to the Kanto Plain – almost right over U.S. bases – it will be a quick, brief visit. Neoguri will still be packing significant tropical-storm winds, 52-mph sustained and 63-mph gusts as it roars past and into the western Pacific Ocean.

Though Neoguri is losing its punch rapidly, it’s still time for folks in all corners of U.S. Forces Japan to remain cautious and play things safely.

10:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, Japan time: U.S. bases on Okinawa have entered Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-R (recovery). Sustained 58-mph winds are no longer occurring.

Folks, this is not the time to go out and suggest that the storm is over. The recovery process is just starting. Recovery crews and staff civil are headed out into the thick of night to assess storm damage, downed trees and power lines, building damage, flooding and anything else that might pose a danger to folks on the bases.

If you’re off base, resist the temptation to go out and risk being hit by a tree limb or a power line that has not yet fallen. These are still dangerous times. Remain indoors until the all-clear (seasonal TCCOR 4) has been announced.

8 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, Japan time: Typhoon Neoguri’s back-side wind bands remain over Okinawa and sustained 58-mph winds keep raking the island, keeping U.S. bases in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-E (emergency) for at least three more hours, perhaps longer.

Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight’s latest wind forecast timeline has 58-mph sustained winds continuing until 11 p.m., then winds diminishing below 40 mph by 1 a.m. Wednesday. It may take longer; back-side winds associated with Okinawa typhoons tend to be tricky buggers, and can remain for long, long hours after the storms’ centers have long since passed the island.

Kadena Air Base’s Facebook page reports that emergency responders have been dispatched to care for folks injured because they went outside during Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-E (emergency).

Aside from U.S. Forces Japan instructions prohibiting people from venturing outdoors during TCCOR 1-E, it’s simply not a smart thing to do. Lives get put in danger, those who venture outside and emergency responders who have to come help. Disciplinary action could follow for those who violate the rules. Stay inside and be safe.

Areas on base that are currently without power:

  • Plaza Housing, Chibana Housing
  • Sebille Manor B 5335
  • Camp Foster Tower B377
  • Arnold Terrace Housing
  • Washington Heights Housing
  • Voice of America Housing
  • Camp  Courtney B4513, B4563A and B4506 and Navy Lodging.

Sasebo Naval Base remains in TCCOR 2 and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in TCCOR 3.

7 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, Japan time: U.S. bases on Okinawa remain in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-E (emergency); appears as if the back side of Typhoon Neoguri will take a while to clear the island. Sasebo Naval Base is in TCCOR 2 and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in TCCOR 3.

Neoguri continues tracking north at 17 mph and has made its closest point of approach to Okinawa, 123 miles west at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Just a question of how quickly the back end of Neoguri takes to move out.

Next comes a sharp right turn, sharper than previously forecast. Landfall should come around 6 a.m. Thursday over southwestern Kyushu, about 59 miles southeast of Sasebo, packing 86-mph sustained winds and 104-mph gusts at its center. The base should get between 52- and 63-mph sustained winds and 86-mph gusts at Neoguri’s closest point of approach.

Iwakuni should be ever further out of harm’s way; Neoguri should pass 92 miles southeast, and the base should get sustained 30-mph winds and gusts between 46 and 52 mph.

It appears Neoguri will venture much closer to the Kanto Plain – almost right over U.S. bases there. It will be a brief visit, although Neoguri will still be packing significant tropical-storm winds, 52-mph sustained and 63-mph gusts as it roars past and into the western Pacific Ocean.

Latest wind timeline when it becomes available.

Typhoon 08W (Neoguri), #23: Sasebo update

6 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, Japan time: Sasebo Naval Base expects to set Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1 at 6 a.m. Wednesday. All non-essential services will be shut down Wednesday and will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday, according to CFAS’ Facebook page. Main base gate will be closed; back gate will remain open.

Things worsen in terms of damage and injury on Okinawa, even though it appears Typhoon Neoguri has made its closest point of approach. Ten people hurt, including one man serious injured in Urasoe. The other injuries were minor, according to Okinawa’s crisis management office.

Evacuation advisories were issued to 246,000 homes and 593,000 residents, including the entire populations of Chatan, Kitanakagusuku and Kadena, communities where most off-base military and civilians are located. A total of 96,700 homes remain without power, including 95,300 on Okinawa main island.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni has entered Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3. Destructive winds of 58 mph or greater are possible within 48 hours.

Typhoon 08W (Neoguri), #22

3 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, Japan time: Thousands are without power and hundreds have been evacuated as Typhoon Neoguri continues its assault on Okinawa, the prefecture’s disaster prevention and crisis management division said in a release early Tuesday afternoon.

An evacuation advisory has been issued to 228,000 households affecting 551,000 people. Thus far, 725 people in 31 cities and towns have been evacuated, some voluntarily.

Four people have been injured, none seriously, and 68,500 households are without power, 67,200 on Okinawa’s main island, 1,200 on Miyako and 100 on Yaeyama.

Typhoon 08W (Neoguri), #21

12:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, Japan time: Okinawa is feeling a segment of the brunt of Typhoon Neoguri’s east quadrants as it passes the noon hour on Tuesday. Much rain and wind, but it could have been far worse than what Okinawa is getting at this point. U.S. bases on Okinawa remain in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-E (emergency). Actual winds of 58 mph or greater are occurring.

Neoguri remains on track to pass about 113 miles west of Okinawa at 4 p.m. Tuesday, still packing 127-mph sustained winds and 155-mph gusts at its center. Still a significant Category 3-equivalent storm. Through 12:30 p.m., the highest winds on Okinawa as a whole have been 67-mph sustained and 107-mph gusts, toward the west end of the island. At Kadena, the strongest winds have been 64-mph sustained and 90-mph gusts.

If Neoguri remains on forecast track, peak winds at Kadena will be 69-mph sustained and 92-mph gusts at about 4 p.m. Some 5 to 7 inches of rain is also expected.

Sustained 58-mph winds are forecast to continue until 8 p.m., and sustained 40-mph winds until 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Naha International Airport is closed all day Tuesday, and some airlines suggest that early morning Wednesday flights may be canceled or delayed due to backlogs and aircraft arrangement. Japan Air Lines and its affiliates report that 145 flights have been canceled, affecting 13,416 passengers. All Nippon Airways canceled 110 flights, stranding 14,000-plus passengers. Solaseed air grounded all 12 of its flights in and out of Okinawa, with 830 passengers affected.

As of 7:10 a.m. according to the Okinawa prefecture’s crisis management office, nearly 100,000 residents were advised to evacuate their homes, 442 evacuated voluntarily, power was out to 6,500 homes and 13 roads and/or bridges were closed.

Neoguri should next start bending east toward Kyushu, passing 52 miles southeast of Sasebo Naval Base at 7 a.m. Thursday, a bit later than previously forecast. Sasebo expects to enter TCCOR 1 at 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to Fleet Activities Sasebo’s Facebook page. Sasebo remains in TCCOR 3 for the moment.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni remains in TCCOR 4 and will see Neoguri pass 59 miles southeast at 3 p.m. Thursday. Sustained 30-mph winds and gusts between 46 and 52 mph are forecast.

Latest Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast says Neoguri will not return over water to the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and instead will make its way over land toward the Kanto Plain around 10 a.m. Friday. The visit should be brief, although Neoguri is still expected to pack 52-mph sustained winds and 63-mph gusts as it makes it way through and dies out over the western Pacific Ocean.

Check with your installation’s official Facebook page for closures and anticipated resumption of base services.

8 a.m. Tuesday, July 8, Japan time: U.S. bases on Okinawa have entered Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1-E. Actual winds of 58 mph or greater are occurring. All outside activity is prohibited.

July 5: A handful of times in the past few days, PST has invoked the name of Typhoon Bart, the last truly big super typhoon to do extensive damage to Okinawa. Typhoon Neoguri is on target to become the next Bart, posing a significant threat as possibly the most powerful tropical cyclone to hit the island since Bart in September 1999.

Bart was the only super typhoon of the 1999 northwest Pacific tropical cyclone season. It caused $5 billion in damage all told, $5 million alone to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

Peak sustained winds were 160 mph on Sept. 22 as it reached the island and raked it with its more dangerous east quadrants, passing 47 miles southwest of Okinawa at its closest point of approach.

Worse, truth be told, than having the eye pass directly over the island; at least folks would have gotten a break there, however brief.

Sasebo Naval Base and Kyushu island were next, as Bart made landfall still packing a powerful right hook, 115-mph sustained winds.

Bart dumped 28 inches of rain on Okinawa. Heavy flooding and landslides contributed to 30 deaths and 1,000 injuries. More than 80,000 homes were damaged and more than 800,000 homes lost power on Okinawa.

The damage continued on Kyushu, specifically Kumamoto Prefecture, where 16 lost their lives and more than 45,000 homes were damaged.

Bart then hurtled back over water, the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and became what’s called an “extratropical cyclone,” one that loses its tropical characteristics, before hitting Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido.

There are some interesting, and disturbing, parallels between Bart and Neoguri.

If the latter continues its rapid intensification and remains on its current forecast track, it will become the first Category 5-equivalent cyclone to strike Okinawa since Bart.

While the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s forecast track takes Neoguri right over the island, at least one outlying dynamic model has Neoguri tracking just west of Okinawa — as Bart did. And in either case, Neoguri’s next forecast destination is Kyushu, very close to Sasebo Naval Base — as was Bart’s.

Are there any Pacific Storm Tracker readers who were on Okinawa 15 years ago when Bart left death and destruction in its wake? Feel free to chime in and tell PST your tales of Bart woe back in the day.

 

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