Aircraft squeeze into hangars; Guam faces off with Tropical Storm Saomai

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Robert Rath
  • 36 OSS/OSW
Saturday, Aug. 5, started like any other day in Guam. While the people of Guam went about their daily lives; Capt. Paul Lee, 1st. Lt. James Caron, Master Sgt. James Darlow, Tech Sgt. Misty York and Staff Sgt. George Silva, on duty weather personnel at the 36th Operations Support Squadron, were preparing for Tropical Storm Saomai. Saomai is the Vietnamese word for the planet Venus.

The storm, which originally was only expected to produce winds up to 30 knots, had begun to rapidly intensify; becoming a Tropical Storm by that afternoon.

By 4:00 p.m., Andersen AFB entered into Typhoon Condition (T-COR) 2, meaning a Tropical Storm was due to affect the base within 24 hours.

As people flocked to the Andersen Commissary and Base Exchange to gather typhoon supplies, Andersen Airmen began typhoon preparation, which included everything from filling sandbags to the repositioning of aircraft in hangers.

In a matter of a few hours, the base was prepared for the now forecast 50 knot or higher winds that would pound the base Sunday afternoon and evening. As for the forecasters at the 36th OSS, they were prepared to monitor the storm's movement and intensity; providing any updates to its path and strength to the Wing leadership.

At 1:00 a.m. Sunday, Saomai was 155 miles southeast of Guam, moving northwest at 13 mph with sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts of up to 52 mph at its center.
Andersen had entered into T-COR 1 at 12:00 a.m. Sunday, indicating that the storm was expected to affect Andersen within the next 12 hours. The forecast originally showed Saomai passing south of Andersen by 4:00 p.m. Sunday, however, the rapidly developing storm accelerated and was upon the base by 4:00 a.m.

The strongest wind gust, 38 mph, was felt at 5:12 a.m. Andersen received just over four inches of rain and although they received only 33 knot winds instead of the forecast 50 knots, the Airman illustrated their personal readiness and teamwork skills assuring that military assets, big and small, remained safe and mission ready.