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Frigid blasts turn tropical Okinawa into an icebox

Date Posted: 2005-03-11

Shivering through the weekend, Okinawans needed no convincing they were part of a record-setting weather phenomena.

The mercury dipped to a mere 41 (5.2C) degrees Saturday, the lowest temperature ever recorded in the northern reaches of the island. Kunigami Village, near the tip of Okinawa at Hedo Point, was the lowest since the Okinawa Meteorological Observatory began keeping records 26 years ago.

Okinawa’s tropical flavor was rocked by hail in Higashi Village, again on the island’s north side. Even more amazing to villagers on Amami Oshima Island was snow! For the first time in 104 years villagers saw the white stuff thatユs only supposed to be visible on television in this sub-tropical region.

Strong northerly winds swept across as well, cutting through the central and southern areas like a knife. Tamagusuku Village scored new records at 6.4C, and Naha City dipped to a less than balmy 42 degrees (9C).

Higashi Village, in the midst of its annual Azalea Festival at Eco-Park, had more than 70 tourists stranded by the 25.1+m winds and hail. メOh my god! Itユs ice coming down from the sky,モ was the comment of children who had never seen it before, and they were the only happy ones. As Saturday turned to Sunday, winds diminished only slightly.

Spectators and golfers at the Daikin Orchid Ladies Tournament at Ryukyu Country Club were bundled in thick clothes, gloves and hats. The ferry to Zamami Island was cancelled by the weather. The winds spread their icy fingers beneath the waters as well, killing many fish in the Senaga Island area by Tomishiro. The fish living in shallow depths couldn’t cope with the drop in water temperatures. “I knew if the temperature dropped below 10C, the local fish couldn’t survive,” said one fisherman. “I got 10kg fish already, just plucking them from the water. They’re good to eat. It’s good to make tempura.”

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