Friday, June 15, 2012


Typhoon season here on Okinawa begins on June 1, and lasts until November 30. Today is June 15, and we are already prepping for our second potential typhoon…so I’m guessing this “season” is not really a joke.

Even when there’s not a storm directly on the horizon, as it were, it still rains pretty consistently. I thought the summer weather here would be like Miami – you know, sunny, but it will probably rain once a day. Instead, it’s kind of the opposite – rainy, but you might see the sun every few days for an hour or so. I took this picture a couple of weeks ago.

Actual typhoon readiness, though, is a whole other animal. Throughout the season, the entire island is in TCCOR-4 (Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 4), which is the lowest level of alert. (Confusingly, the numbers go down as the threat gets more severe.) The TCCOR level is regularly broadcast on the radio and is emblazoned at the bottom left-hand corner of every AFN channel at all times.

I won’t go into all of the different TCCOR stages, but suffice it to say that the first few (4, 3, and 2) are mostly preparatory, and occur within 72 hours of the typhoon’s arrival. After that, schools get closed, driving is restricted, military non-essential personnel are sent home – you get the picture. Last summer a particularly brutal typhoon hit early in the season, and everyone had to stay inside for three days (!).

As I mentioned earlier, we are currently in the early stages of prepping for Guchol. Our TCCOR level hasn’t changed yet as the storm isn’t supposed to hit until Monday night/Tuesday morning, but as you can see from the following projection map, we’ll all be pretty surprised if it veers off course like the last one did.

In case you can’t find Okinawa, we are the dots directly under where Guchol is supposed to hit on Monday at 9pm.

Although the predictions seem dire (high winds! crazy rain!), people here don’t get too worried. Actually, most people I’ve spoken to hope Guchol will come, because it might mean a day off from work and some time to relax with their families. Me? I’m ambivalent. Yoni and I have a few really important things going on early in the week, and I’d prefer they not get cancelled due to inclement weather. Otherwise, I like a good crazy storm as much as the next girl. Wish us luck!

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