Okinawa's first typhoons of season leave Kadena relatively unscathed
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Typhoon season has been in full swing for Okinawa since June 1, but the first substantial typhoons of the season kept Okinawa inhabitants locked down Oct. 5-7.
Staff Sgt. Brian Ogbonnaya, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron operations manager, said that though Typhoons Fitow and Danas came within two days of each other, they caused little to no damage to base facilities.
"For the most part, there was no significant damage other than fallen branches and leaky roofs," Ogbonnaya said. "Altogether, we received nine to 10 work requests, (which were) regular work orders you would get for a normal stormy day -- nothing too significant."
Danas, the more recent of the storms, passed within 47 nautical miles northeast of the island at roughly 3:45 p.m. Oct. 7, causing sustained winds to peak at 44 knots on the island with gusts up to 90 knots near Hedo Point.
However, there are no official reporting stations that the U.S. military uses for weather observations north of the island, so winds could have reached higher speeds.
"Danas' intensity was equivalent to that of a Category 4 hurricane," said 1st Lt. Laura Godoy, 18th Operation Support Squadron wing weather officer. "The eye wall was nearly over Hedo Point, so Okuma and the northern portion of the island saw a lot higher winds than Kadena did. However, though it had a well-defined center of the storm, the really strong winds were close to the eye wall, and the wind speed dropped significantly as it got further from the eye."
Typhoon Fitow was considered weaker than Danas at its center -- only equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane -- but it was a much broader storm, meaning Kadena saw higher wind speeds. The eye wall struck within 110 nautical miles to the southwest of Kadena at approximately 3 p.m. Oct. 5 with its highest sustained winds reaching 47 knots on Kadena with gusts up to 72 knots on Miyagi Island.
Compared to 2012's typhoon season, 2013 seems tame. However, Godoy said that last year was atypical in its own right.
"Last year was the most active typhoon season for Okinawa in eight years," Godoy said. "There were numerous other storms this year, though most of the others have been considered tropical storm-strength or haven't come close enough to the island to see significant impacts. This year is about normal."