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Sasebo braces for arrival of Typhoon Nabi

Storm expected to hit Japan’s coast on Tuesday afternoon

By GREG TYLER AND DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 7, 2005

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Base personnel “battened down the hatches” in preparation for Super Typhoon Nabi, on course to wallop Sasebo late Tuesday, and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni shortly thereafter.

The typhoon was approximately 150 miles southeast of Sasebo and about 197 miles south of Iwakuni on Monday afternoon tracking northeastward at 8 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii.

By Tuesday morning, the typhoon’s sustained winds are forecast to be 109 mph with gusts to 132 mph.

Sasebo officials declared Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 1 at 10 p.m. Monday. The closest point of approach is 46 miles east of this southern Japan base about 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Sasebo is nestled among a mountainous barrier protecting the base from west-tracking typhoons; however, Nabi should move over from the east, making the base vulnerable to a greater impact from the typhoon’s west quadrant.

Sasebo’s Department of Defense Dependents Schools closed Tuesday, according to the base contingency information service. Additional closings would be determined by the impact of the typhoon.

As a precaution, ships left port Saturday. The USS Juneau, USS Harpers Ferry and USS Fort McHenry made open-water sorties, said Lt. Edward Sisk, Amphibious Group One spokesman. The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, restricted to port due to maintenance, is secured pier side, he said.

Already at sea are the minesweeper USS Guardian and rescue-and-salvage ship USS Safeguard.

“The USS Patriot (minesweeper) is secured in a dry dock, which is what they do in these cases with smaller ships,” Sisk said.

Nabi is forecast to pass about 55 miles west of Iwakuni in southwestern Honshu, said Sgt. Daniel Young of the Iwakuni weather office. Nabi’s path through Iwakuni should take place about 2 a.m. Wednesday while packing sustained winds of 75 mph with gusts to 98 mph.

Iwakuni implemented TCCOR 1 early Tuesday morning, said Master Sgt. Lesli Coakley, a base spokeswoman.

“We’re making sure people secure loose items like outdoor toys, grills and lightweight chairs,” she said. “The Iron Works Gym will serve as a shelter for off-base residents and others who might feel safer there.”

Those using the Iron Works shelter should bring small amounts of food, toiletries and medications, Coakley said. Those with infants should bring diapers.

Col. Michael A. Dyer, Iwakuni commander, said in a meeting Monday that “… when we enter TCCOR 1 Emergency, when the typhoon is upon us, under no circumstances is anyone allowed outdoors.”

A decision was made Monday afternoon to close Matthew C. Perry Elementary and High schools in Iwakuni on Tuesday.

Typhoon Nabi was expected to weaken as it interacts with the Kyushu terrain and cooler sea surfaces in the Sea of Japan, the JTWC forecast stated.

Nabi’s original predicted path was toward Okinawa but it veered away Sunday and passed about 195 miles to the northeast of the island around 5 a.m. Monday.

Okinawa’s winds were limited to a brisk 53 mph Sunday night, and the island received only about three-quarters of an inch of rain, said Senior Airman Daniel Blankenship, a forecaster with the 18th Weather Flight on Kadena Air Base.

“We were in the southwest quadrant of the system, in which typically we don’t receive much rain,” Blankenship said.

Preliminary reports indicated no serious damage was caused by the typhoon.

Reporter Dave Ornauer contributed to this report.


Tracking the storm

Call DSN 252-3034 for Sasebo Naval Base’s updated weather and conditions of readiness, school closures and other pertinent information, or visit Sasebo's Web site.

Call DSN 253-3005 for Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni updated weather and conditions of readiness.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center is tracking Typhoon Nabi’s path and wind speeds.

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