Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tornadoes, Typhoons, and Earthquakes

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

The weather has been warm and extremely muggy for the ten days or so that I have been on Okinawa. Lots of moisture in the air and occasional rain storms. It is so very different from Arizona.

I learned in one of my many orientation meetings and briefings that Okinawa has tornadoes, apparently an average of eighteen a year. That is something that I never encountered or even heard about on my previous tour here. Typhoons (the Asian equivalent of hurricanes) have a habit of ripping through the island every few years or so. I sat through a major one in 1972 when the eye of the storm passed right over the quarters where I was living. Apparently Okinawa has not had a typhoon in the past two years, so the locals are saying that this will be the year. The official typhoon season runs from June 1st through November 30th. They are amazing storms, and provide island residents with a good excuse to miss work for a day or so!

Earthquakes are fairly common, though many are so minor as to hardly be felt. Okinawa sits along the Pacific Rim of Fire, an area that is known for earthquakes. I remember sitting through one in the seventies. There was a major one here this past March, and a minor one two weeks ago before I arrived. Most of the buildings here are designed to survive tornadoes, typhoons, and earthquakes. They are mainly one and two story, squat buildings made of blocks and cement. I wonder how they would stand up to a good tsunami - and I hope that I never find out!

Attached are a couple of more photos from the Esai Festival in Naha this past weekend. Enjoy.

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