Erratic typhoon misses Tokyo, heads toward Iwakuni
July 30, 2004
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Typhoon Namtheun turned away from Tokyo on Wednesday and was expected to take a westerly track that would carry it toward Iwakuni this weekend, forecasters said.
U.S. military bases on the Kanto Plain were placed in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness SW (Storm Watch) on Wednesday, said 2nd Lt. Robert Branham, a weather officer for the 374th Operations Support Squadron.
While destructive winds no longer were predicted for the area, officials were monitoring the storm due to its erratic movements and close proximity.
“It could still take a turn to the north, which would bring stronger winds to the area,” Branham said Wednesday afternoon.
In TCCOR-SW, a possibility remains of danger due to storm unpredictability.
At 3 p.m. Wednesday, Namtheun, Laotian for “River,” was 300 miles southeast of Tokyo, moving west-northwest at about 12 mph, according to Branham. The storm packed sustained winds of 104 mph, gusting to about 127.
Following a west-northwesterly path, it was expected to make landfall near Shikoku, Branham said.
Namtheun should weaken a bit by Thursday afternoon, said Staff Sgt. Ronald Sherard, a forecaster with the 374th Operational Support Squadron.
Predicted to be moving due west then at about 15 mph, it’s expected to pass 263 miles southwest of Atsugi Naval Air Facility and Camp Zama with sustained winds of 92 mph and gusts up to 115.
By Friday, the storm is expected to be about 124 miles southeast of Shiono Cape in Wakayama Prefecture and off the shores of Shikoku in the western part of Japan, where it should make landfall, according to a Japan Meteorological Agency news release.
The current forecast model puts the storm about 37 miles from Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station by 5 p.m. Sunday, Sherard said.
Officials anticipated minimal impact on the Kanto Plain, Branham said, with the potential for up to two inches of rain beginning late Wednesday and wind gusts topping out at about 40 mph overnight.
Namtheun is the third typhoon to threaten the Kanto Plain this year, he added. On average, two pass within 125 miles of Yokota each year.
— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.