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Typhoon Trami topples trees, damages vehicles at US bases in Japan

Thousands of visitors crowd the flightline during the 2012 Japanese-American Friendship Festival at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 19, 2012. Yokota welcomed approximately 178,000 visitors for the festival from across Japan. (Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse/U.S. Air Force)

More than 170 trees were toppled, damaging vehicles and breaking walls at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo as Typhoon Trami brought record-setting wind to the archipelago early Monday.

But the storm, which battered Japan from the southern island prefecture of Okinawa to the northern end of Honshu with wind gusts greater than 130 mph, had little effect on other U.S. bases.

Yokota Air Base and nearby Camp Zama appeared to be the worst hit, despite the eye of the storm traveling much closer to other installations, namely Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

Dozens of airmen fanned out across Yokota’s runway Monday morning to collect debris from overnight winds that downed large trees, broke windows and blew over wooden fences and small structures in base housing areas.

Several cherry blossom trees lining a picturesque road on the base’s east side were in splinters and, nearby, several damaged vehicles were trapped beneath fallen limbs.

“This was a significant storm resulting in 170 fallen trees and property damage across the installation,” Lt. Col. Richard Engelman, commander of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, told Stars and Stripes in an email. “We are very thankful there were no injuries.”

Yokota weather forecaster Yoshinori Ogawa said Trami may have been the strongest storm on record at the base, with gusts of 81 mph between midnight and 4 a.m.

Defense Department civilian worker Brian Adams said he was awoken at 1:30 a.m. to find a large pine tree on top of his Nissan Cube and another vehicle in an on-base lot.

“We’d been watching it. It was swaying in the wind,” he said of the tree as he surveyed the damage from his doorstep.

Adams, who said he was at Misawa Air Base during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, didn’t seem too stressed about the situation. He said base officials told him they might be able to remove the tree from his car later that day.

Kadena was closest to the eye of the storm, where sustained winds topped 103 mph and gusts exceeded 132 mph. Private vehicles struck by fallen trees limbs was the worst damage reported, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Orella of base public affairs office.

Aircraft stationed at Kadena were evacuated to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, to avoid the storm, he said.

The BBC reported Monday that two people died because of Typhoon Trami, and that more than 750,000 homes had lost power across Japan.

Trami — the worst typhoon to strike Okinawa in six years — is the fifth super typhoon of the season.


© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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