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Flash flooding traps cars in Okinawa thunderstorm

Date Posted: 2007-07-18

Several cars traveling Highway 58 Tuesday suddenly found themselves trapped in meter-deep water as a thunderstorm pummeled the island.

The thunderstorm blanketed Okinawa beginning about 7 am, dropping 35 millimeters (1.38 inches) of rain per hour, for more than two hours. The heavy downpour caused the Okinawa Prefecture Weather Bureau to issue a severe thunderstorm and excessive rain warning in mid-morning.

Cars traveling Highway 58 in the Kadena, Chatan Town and Sunabe areas met the gushing wall of water about 9:30 a.m., storm drains and sewers unable to handle the runoff. Cars trying to reach Camp Lester in Chatan Town were quickly stranded, water rising more than three feet, reaching to automobile hood levels. Rescue crews were sent to remove seven drivers from the semi-submerged cars.

The storm and flash flooding triggered a massive traffic jam stretching more than two kilometers on Highway 58. Traffic did not begin moving for more than an hour, when water began receding from the roadways.

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