Typhoon Phanfone Slams Japan: One U.S. Airman Found Dead, Three Missing

Weather Channel

One U.S. airman is dead and two others are feared drowned in Okinawa, Japan, after a group of servicemen were swept out to sea by high waves caused by Typhoon Phanfone.

The six servicemen at Kadena Air Base were taking photos of high waves on the northwest coast of the island when four overtaken by waves around 3:45 p.m. local time, according to Nago District Police in Okinawa.  

Phanfone has already dumped torrential rainfall and produced powerful winds on some of the small islands south of the Japanese mainland. Heavy rainfall and gusty winds will spread into portions of the Japanese mainland, particularly the islands of Kyushu, Shikoku, and the Pacific side of Honshu, on Sunday and Monday. The vast majority of Japan’s 128 million people live in this zone.

Here are some of the impacts Phanfone has produced so far.

Casualties and Damage

Japanese Coast Guard helicopters deployed to search for the three missing U.S. airmen recovered one body around 5:52 p.m. local time.

“The Japanese Coast Guard, and two HH-60 helicopters from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, have responded and operations are ongoing,” the base said in a statement.

The incident happened after the storm had already passed by the island, NBC News reports.

According to Kadena Air Base’s Facebook page, the airmen’s names won’t be released until 24 hours after family is notified.

Kadena Air Base is the largest U.S. military installation in the Asia-Pacific region and is home to 18,000 American servicemen.

Public broadcaster NHK reports that a 21-year-old surfer has also been reported missing just south of Tokyo off the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture.

Formula One driver Jules Bianchi crashed and received a severe head injury during the Japanese Grand Prix Sunday. In wet weather conditions, the 25-year-old crashed into a crane that was assisting another driver, The Associated Press reports. Other drivers complained of poor visibility as rain fell on the course and night began to set.

The BBC reports that an unconscious Bianchi was taken to surgery and is now breathing on his own.

High winds battered the remote Daito Islands Saturday. The Okinawa Times reported one injury on Minami-daitojima (South Daito Island) but did not provide any details.

The Okinawa Times reported roof damage to a garage on Minami-daitojima along with a temporary power outage to 300 households.


NHK says officials have advised about 12,000 people nationwide to evacuate. About three-fourths of these are in the city of Tahara, on a spit of land jutting into the Pacific south of Nagoya in central Japan’s Aichi Prefecture.

In Nagiso town, Nagano Prefecture, officials have advised 282 residents to evacuate, according to NHK. The town was the site of a deadly landslide in July due to rain associated with Typhoon Neoguri.


According to flightaware.com, about one in seven flights out of Tokyo’s two major airports, Narita and Haneda, have been cancelled as the typhoon approaches. The site also reports cancellations at Kansai International Airport near Osaka in central Japan, and Fukuoka Airport in western Japan.

Ferry services have been disrupted in Kagoshima Prefecture, in southwestern Japan, due to the typhoon, according to 373news.com.

The Amami Shinbun newspaper said all flights connecting Amami Island with the mainland were cancelled Saturday. NHK reports that at least 147 domestic flights have been canceled nationwide.

Shoppers flocked to supermarkets to stock up on goods, as the rough seas canceled cargo shipments to the island. Stores ran low on milk and other popular items.

Other Impacts

Rain occurring well ahead of the typhoon has caused officials to call off the search for 13 missing hikers believed to have died in the volcanic eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan last weekend.

Rainfall Reports

Rainfall as of 3:40 a.m. JST Monday (2:40 p.m. EDT Sunday) unless otherwise noted:

Top rain total so far: 364.5 mm (14.35 inches) in Owase city, Mie Prefecture, in central Japan

Other notable rain totals:

340.5 mm (13.41 inches) in Nakatane town, Tanegashima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture

336.5 mm (13.25 inches) at Miyake-jima in the Izu Islands south of Tokyo

335.0 mm (13.19 inches) at Tanegashima, Tanegashima island, Kagoshima Prefecture (all-time 24-hr and calendar day records for the month of October)

257.5 mm (10.14 inches) at Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture (the largest total so far in the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo)

Official rainfall in central Tokyo: 171.5 mm (6.75 inches) through 4 a.m. Monday.

Wind Reports

Here are some of the most significant wind reports so far as of 3:40 a.m. JST Monday:

– The top wind speeds on the mainland have been reported at a pair of observation sites on high exposed terrain along the coast, and are thus prone to measuring particularly high winds. Murotomisaki, in Kochi Prefecture, clocked the mainland’s top sustained wind of 52.6 mph at 12:16 a.m. Monday, and the mainland’s top gust of 90.8 mph at 11:47 p.m. Sunday. Shionomisaki in Kanagawa Prefecture recorded a gust of 87.2 mph at 3:12 a.m. Monday. As of this writing that is the top gust in the country so far on Monday.

– Peak wind gust of 97.8 mph on the island of Yakushima at 12:56 p.m. Sunday, and a sustained wind of 70.9 mph a minute later.

– Peak wind gust of 101.3 mph on Kita-daitojima (North Daito Island) at 2:35 p.m. Saturday before the anemometer failed. The peak sustained wind there was 64.0 mph.

– Wind gusts also peaked above 90 mph at the other two observation sites on the Daito Islands Saturday.


One thought on “Typhoon Phanfone Slams Japan: One U.S. Airman Found Dead, Three Missing

  1. Why is it that wind gauges fail at 100 mph? It’s a wind gauge….that’s what you do. You record the wind speed. It’s not rocket science. It’s a freaking propeller that turns around and around. Quality control should be 250 mph.

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