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Andersen avoids Typhoon Kong Rey

  • Published
  • By Airman Basic Evan Carter
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Andersen rose to the challenge of Typhoon Kong Rey, but this time the base was spared from damage when the storm shifted course away from Guam. 

Even though the storm missed Andersen, it's always important to take heed to the warnings and to prepare like it was coming, said Lt. Col. Peter Ridilla, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. 

"Although Typhoon Kong Rey was only equivalent in intensity to a category one storm, it's always prudent to prepare for the worst during hurricanes and typhoons," said Capt. Paul Lee, 36th Operations Support Squadron weather flight commander. "There are several cases where weak tropical storms have developed into super typhoons or category five hurricanes within a 24-hour period. Once that happens it's too late to prepare when a storm of that magnitude begins to bear down on a region." 

Forecasting storms is very hard because they can be so unpredictable.
"In 2001, Typhoon Nari developed southwest of Okinawa and moved north then meandered and looped just west of Guam three times over an eight-day period," said Captain Lee. "During this storm the Joint Typhoon Warning Center did a good job tracking the storm within 50 nautical miles over a 24-hour period. A 50-mile deviation from the forecasted track can mean the difference between 80-knot and 35-knot winds." 

The week before the storm headed through the Northern Marianas, the weather flight identified a circulation their models indicated had typhoon potential and notified wing leadership. On March 29 was when that system first showed up on satellite. The 36 OSS weather flight handled this storm nicely, and will be ready for the next test later in the season said Captain Lee. 

Andersen sustained max winds of 33-knots (37 miles-per-hour) from the storm but no damage occurred. Even though it missed us, preparing the way we did was necessary.
"It's important to secure all base assets to prevent damage to them and ensure safety to the base populace," said 2nd Lt. Robert Hubbard, 36 CES maintenance engineer. "It only takes a small object to cause significant damage." 

Typhoon preparation is broken down by TCOR levels and there are checklists for each condition, explained Lieutenant Hubbard. As well as basewide checklists, there are unit checklists. At TCOR 3, the base stood up its unit control centers and the units began securing their facilities. 

The 36 CES responsibilities consist of several tasks including securing base infrastructure such as electrical and water facilities, and taking down directional signs.
"We took down approach lighting that isn't typhoon resistant and secured the 'distance to go' markers on the airfield," said Lieutenant Hubbard. "A lot of these tasks can't be done until the airfield is shut down and the weather is more likely to be worse." 

Additionally, the 36 CES called all base contractors to the base to ensure their construction equipment was secured. Several active construction sites are on base and all of them required a typhoon plan, said Lieutenant Hubbard. 

Several permanent precautions are in place to help the base withstand typhoons, he explained. 

"One example would be the typhoon walls we install around dumpster sites and HVAC(heating, ventilation and air conditioning) pads," said Lieutenant Hubbard. "These walls help prevent flying debris from striking the units and damaging them." 

Whether personal equipment or personal safety, it's important to take preventative measures according to Colonel Ridilla. 

"I would much rather prepare for a storm that doesn't hit us than under-prepare for a storm that does," he said. "The old saying of 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' is very relevant in storm preparations."

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