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Well, we're no longer living in the heart of Tornado Alley and the general malaise of Central Pacific weather is beginning to wear us down. I'm sure we'll have lots of sympathy this winter from friends and family living in the snow-belt region of Michigan! Since we can't do much storm chasing from a 1.5 square-mile atoll, we must wait for the action to come to us. This is a collection of some of the more interesting weather we've been able to experience while living on Kwajalein Atoll.



August 31, 2006 - Super Typhoon Ioke Poised to Pummel Wake Island
IokeI was up on Wake Island when the Air Force ordered the first full evacuation of all on-island personnel (a total of 188) on Monday, August 28, 2006. They had good reason; the forecasted track had Super Typhoon Ioke (eye-oh-kay) plowing directly over Wake three days later. A pair of C-17 cargo aircraft departed out of Hickam AFB, Honolulu, HI, and landed on Wake around 6 AM that morning. Personnel and luggage were quickly loaded onto the planes and we took off only one hour later. The 4.5 hour flight was one of the smoothest I've ever experienced.

Upon arriving at Hickam, we were greeted by a slew of reporters, one of which pulled me aside and asked a few questions. You can click below to watch a video of me making a fool of myself. I didn't intend to sound so critical of the island infrastructure!

The island is expected to take a direct hit overnight. I very much hope that at least the barracks and houses aren’t too heavily damaged. There are many people who have called Wake their home for over 20 years and were likely forced to leave most of their worldly possessions when we evacuated.

Visit back soon for pictures of my recent trip to Wake (hopefully it won't be the last, depending on just how much damage the island sustains), along with satellite and surface data from the storm. For now, I leave you with the news clip (have mercy on the quality, I only had my point-and-shoot camera with me), one crazy terminal forecast, and measurements taken by the NOAA tide station with the eye center only about 43 miles to the SE.
  • A few examples of satellite imagery that we've been generating of Ioke at the Kwajalein weather station can be found here.

  • Honolulu CBS affiliate 6 PM news broadcast from August 28, 2006. Now that's what I call a "boob tube"!


Click to watch the video
2 min 39 sec, 10.5 MB, Windows Media

  • Here's the Wake terminal forecast (TAF) from 2222Z 30 August. Look at that - sustained winds of 95 knots (110 MPH), gusting to 150 knots (172 MPH)!
PWAK 302222 01035G55KT 1600 TSRA SCT005 OVC020CB 560009 560901 QNH2900INS
BECMG 0506 34050G75KT 0100 +TSRA BLPY BKN005 OVC020CB 5X0009 5X0901 QNH2810INS
BECMG 1011 34095G150KT 0100 +TSRA BLPY BKN005 OVC010CB 5X0009 5X0901 QNH2830INS
BECMG 1718 16065G95KT 0100 +TSRA BLPY BKN005 OVC010CB 5X0009 5X0901 QNH2870INS
BECMG 2021 20060G90KT 0400 +TSRA BLPY BKN005 OVC020CB 5X0009 5X0901 QNH2890INS T27/11Z T26/09Z LIMITED METWATCH 3022 TIL 3111 0105
  • Here are graphs of observations made by the Wake Island NOAA tide station as the eye was approaching from just 43 miles to the SE. Click image to enlarge. This was the last valid data sent by the sensor suite before it sustained damage and began sending questionable data.
  • Update - September 7, 2006: The first batch of aerial photographs from Coast Guard reconnaissance aircraft has been released by the Air Force, and thankfully, they show that the island sustained less damage than expected. (link1, link2)
  • STY Ioke was certainly one for the record books! Ioke was...
    • The first Category 5 hurricane ever to form in the Central Pacific and reach that intensity while still in the Central Pacific.
    • The most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Central Pacific with an estimated minimum central pressure of 920 mbar (27.179 inHg).
    • Tied Hurricane Emilia of 1994 by reaching Category 5 status twice as hurricanes in the northern Pacific east of the International Date Line. Ioke would go on to restrengthen to a Category 5-equivalent typhoon.
    • Spent longer at Category 4 and higher than any other Central or East Pacific hurricane with a total of 34 (31 consecutive) 6-hourly reports at that strength. The previous record was held by Hurricane Paka with 27 (25 consecutive) 6-hourly reports.
  • Wikipedia Ioke Page
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August 27, 2004 - Additional Rough Weather Takes Aim on the Marshalls
Oh my!The tropical storm season is in full swing across the Pacific Ocean. Currently, we have a super typhoon near Japan (see previous entry) and three tropical storms scattered across the Pacific. In addition, two disturbances within 500 nm of the Kwajalein Atoll are being monitored by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu and have a fair shot of becoming tropical cyclones.

The closest disturbance, located approximately 120 nm to the north, is causing our typical northeasterly surface winds to howl out of the west, resulting in rough seas in the eastern lagoon. The Kwajalein and Ebeye piers face the west and the rough seas have caused minor damage. The evening and night ferry services between the two islands have been cancelled as well. The stores on Kwajalein are largely staffed by Marshallese from Ebeye and were closed early to allow the employees to return home. The public school was also closed early. Signs posted on the doors of Macy's and Macy's West (the two on-island "department stores") are causing quite a stir by including mention of the "pending storm".

The weather station has been flooded with phone calls from concerned residents who have caught wind of an “impending storm.” Ironically, The Day After Tomorrow is showing at the Richardson Theater this weekend. Coincidence? I think not!

As of this evening, we've received over 20” of rainfall for the month of August. Three more inches will tie the record for the wettest August on record, set in 1997.

High tide batters the Small Boat Marina. Boats were moved further out into the lagoon to prevent damage to their hulls and the docks. Boats were moved further out into the lagoon to prevent damage to their hulls and the docks.
A stiff wind helps to show off the Small Craft Advisory flag atop Harbor Control. Large waves crash over the sea wall throughout the residential section of the island as a result of persistent westerly winds. Large waves crash over the sea wall throughout the residential section of the island as a result of persistent westerly winds.
The kids had fun playing in the waves. By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes?  It may turn out to be a rather interesting weekend! Things tend to be overly dramatized on such a small island.
WTPN33 PGTW 271500
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVPACMETOCCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING//
REF/A/NAVPACMETOCCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/271121Z AUG 04//
AMPN/TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION ALERT//
1. TROPICAL DEPRESSION 22W WARNING NR 001

REMARKS:
271500Z5 POSITION NEAR 10.8N9 166.3E6.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION (TD) 22W, LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 270 NM EAST OF ENIWETUK, HAS TRACKED WESTWARD AT 06 KNOTS OVER THE PAST 06 HOURS. THE WARNING POSITION IS BASED ON 271130Z4 INFRARED SATELLITE IMAGERY. THE WARNING INTENSITY IS BASED ON SATELLITE CURRENT INTENSITY ESTIMATES OF 25 AND 35 KNOTS. MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT AT 271200Z2 IS 12 FEET.
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August 18, 2004 - A Developing Tropical Storm Batters Kwajalein
View stunning video!A persistent low-level circulation, located approximately 150 nm northwest of Kwajalein, generated high seas on the west reef of the atoll. Residents were drenched by over 1.25" of rain and wind gusts to 27 kt (31 mph). I shot some video near the "shark pit" on the southwestern end of the island, where one frequently finds fishermen catching their dinners. Not today, though; anyone gutsy enough to venture out near the edge of the cement platform would've likely been swept out to sea! The disturbance eventaully formed into Super Typhoon Chaba with maximum wind gusts around 160 kt (184 mph).
PKWA 180351Z 20014KT 10SM FEW020 OVC120 28/25 A2970 RMK SLP056 T02760248

PKWA 180453Z 21016G22KT 10SM FEW020 SCT040 BKN130 OVC160 27/25 A2971 RMK PK WND 22027/41 SLP060 T02700246

PKWA 180553Z 21015G21KT 10SM VCSH SCT019TCU SCT045 SCT130 OVC170 28/24 A2973 RMK TCU W SLP068 VCSH NE AND SE AND W 60007 8/43/ T02790241 10289 20262 53002

PKWA 180650Z 20012KT 10SM -RA SCT019TCU SCT045 BKN130 OVC170 28/25 A2976 RMK RAB14 TCU SE-SW SLP077 T02750248

PKWA 180750Z 21015G25KT 7SM SHRA BKN019TCU BKN045 BKN130 OVC170 26/24 A2978 RMK RAE38SHRAB38 TCU OHD SLP083 T02620242
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Last updated: August 31, 2006

 

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