Hickam jets set to aid Wake
The Air Force prepares to evacuate personnel from the island ahead of Super Typhoon Ioke
Expecting a massive tropical cyclone to hit Wake Island sometime Wednesday, the Air Force prepared to send two C-17 Globemaster cargo jets from Hickam Air Force Base last night to evacuate nearly 200 military, Department of Defense civilians and contractors.
Hurricane Ioke, a Category 5 storm, was renamed Super Typhoon Ioke by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center after it crossed the International Dateline on Saturday.
"It is expected to retain its strength," said National Weather Service forecaster Bob Burke, noting that when the typhoon hits the 4-square-mile island at about 3 p.m. Hawaiian time on Wednesday, it will still be a dangerous Category 5 storm with winds of 140 knots and gusts up to 170 knots (195 mph).
Yesterday, it was about 805 miles east of Wake Atoll. Three islands -- Peale, Wilkes and Wake -- make up the atoll.
Burke said the eye of the typhoon is expected to come as close as 14 miles to the atoll.
"It will almost be a direct hit," Burke said.
Wake Island, 2,300 miles west of Hawaii, supports the operation of the U.S. Pacific Command. The Air Force installation provides facilities, vehicles, aerospace ground equipment, aviation fuel and base assets to sustain aircraft for combat operations.
It was annexed in 1899 for a cable station and captured by the Japanese in December 1941.