Typhoon Carmen



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Typhoon Carmen

I arrived in Japan on August 8, 1960. Typhoon Carmen arrived on August 16 and stayed until the 23rd. I was there two years and may have stirred up a little dust, but nothing compared to Carmen.

I was stationed at Misawa Air Force Base, Japan. It is located on the far northeast corner of the island of Honshu, Japan across from the Korean Peninsula. The United States joint Typhoon Warning Center told us we had two days to get ready to meet Carmen. We had time for preparations but nobody seemed to know for sure how to use it. Misawa is a large Air Force Base with many huge hangers for aircraft. We had every hanger on that base completely packed full of airplanes, a lot closer together than any manual allowed. They were predicting 100 mile an hour winds for Misawa. Every airplane that would fit was put inside. This still left many aircraft out on the parking ramps, vulnerable to the wind that was coming.

The base commander had a plan to fly the remaining aircraft out just before the storm arrived. The next morning we got a report that the wind speeds were only going to be in the 60 to 70 mile an hour range. They canceled the order to fly the airplanes out. We all started thinking, maybe there won’t be much wind. Then the howling winds hit with a vengeance, the watery blast  lasted all day. We were very fortunate to have daylight to work in.

Airplanes started bouncing up and down and jumping over the chocks that were keeping their wheels from turning. Some planes just rolled around on the ramps by themselves. We had complete pandemonium, all we could do was park a tug or jeep up against the landing gear to stop them from rolling. Pushing on wing tips and trying to steer some from going off the concrete and sinking into the mud was a little dangerous, but we had to do it.

All during this Typhoon learning experience we are being pelted by flying gravel, felt like buck shot. The winds must’ve been around 80 miles an hour because we had raised red spots on our skin from the rocks and stones. I recall being completely exhausted, miserable, soaked to the skin even with foul weather gear on. When we finally got to the mess hall I must have set a new record for the consumption of SOS.

“A sharp trough of low pressure organized into a tropical depression on August 16. It moved northward, quickly strengthening to an 85 mph (137 km/h) typhoon. Carmen lost intensity as it continued to the north, and made landfall on South Korea as a 50 mph (80 km/h) tropical storm on the 23rd. The storm brought 50-foot (15 m) waves to the Korean peninsula, flooding coastal cities and sinking ships offshore. In all, Carmen caused 24 casualties and $2 million in damage (1960 USD). Carmen? is known for having the largest eye of any tropical cyclone in recorded history. Radar data from Okinawa Japan </wiki/Okinawa>,  indicated that it was more than 200 miles (320 km) across.”