Tropical storms take aim at southern, central Japan and South Korea
Stars and Stripes August 9, 2023
Sasebo Naval Base in southern Japan is bracing for the impact of Tropical Storm Khanun as it made its way north Wednesday after a lap around Okinawa last week.
Khanun is expected to pass 84 miles west of the naval base on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, at 1 a.m. Thursday, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The forecast for the naval base calls for showers, nearby thunderstorms and southeasterly winds of 40 to 52 mph, gusting to 69 mph overnight Wednesday into Thursday.
The naval base — population 8,400, including 2,300 family members — is the homeport for the amphibious assault ship USS America and its amphibious ready group, and ships of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Nonessential services, such as the base commissary, Navy Exchange, restaurant, library and chapel, were closed Wednesday until all-clear is announced after the storm and recovery efforts, Graham said. Security forces, medical care, port operation and watch standers remained on duty.
Khanun as a typhoon made two passes at Okinawa on Aug. 1 and Sunday, injuring more than 40 people and leaving downed trees, flooded zones, closed highways and power outages. Authorities suspect two people died as a result of the storm.
After clearing Japan, the weakened storm heads north into the heart of the Korean Peninsula.
Sasebo was in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness level 1 on Wednesday, base spokesman Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Graham, told Stars and Stripes via email Wednesday.
“Preparations for the incoming storm have been made throughout the preceding TCCOR levels,” Graham said. “Including inspections of facilities to identify issues like potential clogged drains and securing loose items.”
Khanun at 9 a.m. Wednesday was 154 miles south of Sasebo, moving northwest at 7 mph and with 63-mph sustained winds and 81-mph gusts at center.
Sasebo city at 10 a.m. Wednesday opened evacuation shelters and issued a level three alert to evacuate the elderly and other at-risk individuals, according to a post on the base’s official Facebook page.
The Emergency Management Department on base also opened an emergency shelter in the Main Base Fleet Fitness Center for any of the population affiliated with the military U.S. military that wish to use it, Graham said. The shelter is for service members, civilian employees, contractors and their families who don’t feel safe in their off-base homes or cannot remain in their homes due to storm damage, he said.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lan is making its way toward the heart of Japan’s largest island, Honshu, according to the typhoon center. Lan at 9 a.m. Wednesday was 889 miles south-southeast of Yokosuka Naval Base and moving west-northwest at 6 mph. It had strengthened to sustained winds of 63 mph sustained winds and 81-mph gusts at its center.