CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Usagi was downgraded to a tropical storm as it churned Friday over the Sea of Japan, hours after lashing Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Sasebo Naval Base with gale-force winds but for the most part sparing both bases of its full fury.

"We got lucky, you bet," Sasebo spokesman Chuck Howard said.

Sasebo felt 46-mph wind gusts between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Thursday as Usagi passed 115 miles east. Just two-tenths of an inch of rain fell, Howard said. The base remained in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 2 until the all-clear was declared at 7:30 a.m. Friday.

There were no reports of damage at Sasebo or at Iwakuni, which experienced 48-mph winds and "maybe just an inch" of rain associated with the storm, according to base spokesman Maj. Billy Canedo.

Usagi passed 35 miles west of Iwakuni at about 3 a.m. Friday. TCCOR Storm Watch was declared at 4 a.m., followed by the all-clear at 7 a.m., Canedo said.

Other areas of southwestern Japan didn’t fare as well. Usagi dumped 15 inches of rain in some areas, injuring at least 21 people, closing highways, disrupting railway traffic, grounding flights, knocking out power to thousands of homes and forcing thousands of people to flee from flooded areas.

On Friday, Japan Air Lines, All-Nippon Airways and their subsidiaries canceled 47 flights, Yomiuri Shimbun reported. A fallen tree knocked out power between Asa and Kokura stations on the high-speed bullet train line, canceling two trains and delaying eight others, affecting 1,200 passengers, Kyodo News reported.

A record 4¾ inches of rain fell in one hour in Saiki, Oita Prefecture, and Nobeoka in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyodo reported.

At 6 p.m. Friday, Usagi swirled 265 miles northeast of Iwakuni. Still a significant storm, Usagi packed sustained 58-mph winds and 75-mph gusts as it rumbled north-northeast at 23 mph. Forecasts called for between 4 and 6 inches of rain in the Kanto Plain, the Sea of Japan side of Honshu and Hokkaido into Saturday afternoon, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

U.S. bases in the Kanto Plain moved from TCCOR Storm Watch to an all-clear at 4 p.m. Friday. Usagi’s closest passage was forecast for 281 miles northwest of Camp Fuji at 7 p.m. Friday.

Usagi is forecast to pass 80 miles north of Misawa Air Base at 11 a.m. Saturday, still packing 40-mph sustained winds and 52-mph gusts. Forecasts at Misawa called for gusts of up to 40 mph Saturday; no TCCORs or weather warnings were issued as of Friday afternoon.

Stars and Stripes reporters Jennifer H. Svan and Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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