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Record setting heavy rains continue but letup may be in sight

Date Posted: 2005-06-24

Soggy best describes Okinawa, and weather forecasters say the heaviest rains in more than three decades aren’t finished dropping on the island.

Rainfall totals are at 30 inches for the month, with most of it coming since June 11th. The official total going into last weekend was 28.6” and forecasts call for skies to stay dark until midweek. Officials at the Okinawa Meteorological Observatory say last week’s rainfall was the most in the past 30 years.

Okinawa’s normal June precipitation total is 8.3”, according to the Meteorological Observatory. A slight break could come during the weekend, but don’t bet on it. Kadena’s weather team is not too optimistic. As rains continue, there’s a good chance totals will exceed the 1975 total of 37.6”, the second highest monthly total ever. The June rainfall record was set in 1969, with 45.1”.

Dangerous conditions have been spawned by the rains. Landslides and flooding have been common, with a dozen locations seeing flooding. Road collapses were recorded in four locations, while 42 sections of roadway have become underwater streets. Much of the overflow comes from the Hija River, as the rains have reached near typhoon tallies.

The rainy season is supposed to end today, but Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be paying attention to the calendar. Rains have forced postponing of dozens of planned events, including KinserFest and the Special Olympics on Kadena. It impacted somewhat on the Marine Forces Regional Pacific Basketball Tournament, even though it was an indoor event at Camp Foster. Inconvenience is more than serious injuries to residents, officials say, but note the flooding is increasingly more problematic.

Homes across the island, from Okinawa City and Uruma to Naha have been flooded in the past few days, and the Highway 58 bypass in Yomitan suddenly found itself victim of a 70-foot collapse.

Driving is treacherous, as rapid flowing water can force even larger vehicles off the road and out of control.

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