SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sirens blared throughout the base just after noon Thursday, followed by announcements that a typhoon was headed this way. Base workers began to prepare for rough weather.
Fortunately, late in the afternoon the typhoon showed clear signs of weakening.
Typhoon Conson is the seventh tropical cyclone of the 2004 typhoon season — loosely considered as early June through early September — and churned along approximately 92 miles southwest of Okinawa, tracking to the northeast around 17 mph on Thursday.
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan announced Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 at 12:10 p.m. Thursday after declaring TCCOR 4 at 7 p.m. Wednesday. TCCOR 3 indicates that destructive force winds of about 57 mph or greater are expected within 48 hours.
But late in the afternoon Typhoon Conson started to shift.
“At this point we are extremely confident that the storm will move to the east of us and we are looking at a northerly flow, which means it would be a lot less destructive in our case,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Kawczk, a forecaster with the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Sasebo Detachment.
Satellite imagery late Thursday afternoon on the Joint Typhoon Warning Center Web site indicated a weakening trend, including cooling eye temperatures.
Due to the storm’s diminished intensity, CNFJ issued TCCOR Storm Watch around 4 p.m., meaning that destructive-force winds of 57 mph or greater have subsided or no longer are expected to occur, according to American Forces Network broadcasts.
The storm still was expected to pass close to the Sasebo area. Any shift in the storm’s track or an increase in intensity “may warrant the issuance of a higher level of tropical cyclone condition of readiness,” the warning stated.
Sustained winds between 39 mph and 56 mph may be experienced when a TCCOR Storm Watch is set.
Base personnel were advised to remain alert, as rapid changes to TCCOR could occur through Friday. Sasebo’s AFN television channels 3, 13, 23, 25 or 26, and radio channel 1575 AM will broadcast further updates.