Sasebo braces for approaching Typhoon Songda
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1 Caution was issued at 7 a.m. Tuesday as winds of 104 mph and gusts up to 127 mph and intermittent heavy rain churned the India and Juliet basins.
These would be some of Typhoon Songda’s worst sustained winds as the typhoon passed just 16 miles from Sasebo from the southeast, forecasters said.
“Basically, overnight the storm began to recurve to the northeast and accelerated. So, we are expecting the maximum impact on the base early this morning rather than noon as forecast late yesterday,” Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Kawczk, typhoon forecaster from Sasebo’s Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Detachment, said Tuesday.
“This storm must be taken very seriously. It has the potential to produce the strongest winds observed in Sasebo in over 60 years,” Kawczk said.
At about 6 a.m., the base was a windy, wet, ghost town. The trees along California Drive waved consistently at the few vehicles passing by, waves more menacing than friendly.
The main gates were locked to those going in or out. The only way in was through a back gate for mission-essential personnel.
Schools also were closed Tuesday.
“We should have all clear here by 3 p.m.,” Kawczk predicted.
Kawczk said winds of 58 mph or greater are predicted to last three hours Tuesday. Showers should be heavy with isolated thunderstorms during the late morning and early afternoon but should fade by 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.
As he did last week when Typhoon Chaba approached, base commander Capt. Michael James made rooms available in bachelor housing to those living off-base who did not feel safe in their housing.
Most ships operating from Sasebo are deployed.
“I believe MCMs (minesweepers USS Guardian and USS Patriot) will go into dry-dock. The USS Fort McHenry will remain pierside, with four or five tugs standing by in case of emergency,” said Charles T. Howard, base spokesman.
After passing western Kyushu, the typhoon is forecast to move over the Sea of Japan, moving no closer than 87 miles northwest of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, said forecaster Sgt. Bryan Cunningham.
Iwakuni assumed TCCOR 1 early Tuesday. The base is closed to all but essential personnel, and schools were closed Tuesday.
Cunningham said the worst at Iwakuni, predicted for Tuesday at about 2 p.m., should be sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts up to 58 mph.