Once the food has been purchased and the flashlights have been made easily accessible it’s time to familiarize ourselves with the warning systems available to us. The system we will discuss in this post is the Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness or as you may know it TCCOR. This is a system used mostly by the US Military during the typhoon season here on Okinawa, however, it can also be helpful to others as well.
The TCCOR system has 9 levels. Each level outlines the current conditions, forecast conditions, and things you can do to prepare:
TCCOR 4: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible within 72 hours. TCCOR 4 will be continuously in effect as a minimum condition of readiness from 1 June to 30 November annually.
Now is the time to stock-up on food and Typhoon Supplies.
The most common TCCOR level is TCCOR 4. This level is in effect from June 1 to November 30 as an attempt to remind personnel that the time has come to prepare for the storms that may be on the way.
Although it’s best to prepare before typhoon season hits seeing TCCOR 4 means that is your last reminder that you should have stocked up on supplies and have your plans in order.
TCCOR 3: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible within 48 hours.
Initiate a general cleanup around homes and office.
When you see TCCOR 3 that means that there’s a storm that is actually out there and heading our direction. It’s not uncommon to see nice weather during TCCOR 3 which is why a lot of people brush it off but in actuality TCCOR 3 is the best time to get everything situated at your residence. After all why wait until the rain and wind starts up right?
So what should you do during TCCOR 3 to prepare for the coming storm? The biggest priority is to ensure that anything which could be carried by the wind and thrown needs to be secured or brought inside. This means toys, lawn and garden equipment, bicycles, lawnmowers and even motorcycles depending on your location.
Speaking of motorcycles if you happen to have one TCCOR 3 is the time to bring it to a place where it won’t be tossed around by strong winds. This could be a friend’s garage or even a storage company. In most cases you may even be able to speak with co-workers and they may be able to assist you.
TCCOR 2: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 24 hours.
Remove or secure all outside items.
If you weren’t already paying attention TCCOR 2 should be your wakeup call. Generally speaking this is when the weather starts to get nasty. The winds may not be 50 knots yet but they’re probably picking up and it may be raining. Remember all that prepping that I said people blow off in TCCOR 3? Well, now is your absolute last shot to get it figured out.
TCCOR 2 should also be the time when you start to pay close attention to the weather. Although winds of over 50 knots are “anticipated within 24 hours” that does not mean that they are unlikely before that time. In fact, my past experience has been that once we are in TCCOR 2 we are already experiencing storm like conditions.
Despite what you will read as we continue through this list TCCOR 2 is really when you should start taking your evacuation plan into consideration. If you are in a low lying area or feel that you would be safer staying with a friend then this is the time to make the move. Although the island is likely experiencing wind and rain it is still relatively safe to travel which is why I recommend doing that now rather than waiting.
TCCOR 1: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 12 hours.
No school for DoDDS students. Staff and teachers will work normal hours, unless changed by DoDDS superintendent. Fill any containers you can use for water storage. If you live in low lying quarters, make arrangements to stay with a friend. Make final check of food and other supplies.
By TCCOR 1 you and your family should already be in a secure location and ready to ride out the storm. Remember just because it says “anticipated within 12 hours” doesn’t mean that we are unlikely to see bad conditions before then.
According to the US Military, who releases this information and guidelines, this is the time to make a final check of food and other supplies. This is something I could not disagree more with. The “final check” should have been completed at TCCOR 3 absolutely latest. The reason? Between panic shoppers and the limited stock they leave behind if you have not already gathered enough food for your family you’re too late.
If you are part of the US Military this is the time when you will start to see school canceled, however, teachers will work normal hours. All other facilities are still open and functioning.
TCCOR 1 Caution:
The TCCOR system starts to get a bit wonky once we approach TCCOR 1 Caution. What’s so wonky? The biggest flaw with the TCCOR system is that rather then being solely dependent on the actual weather conditions the final decision to declare what TCCOR level we are in rests in the hands of the Commander (or in other words: the military boss man). This means that sometimes the conditions outside may or may not be reflected appropriately by the TCCOR system. I cannot stress enough how very important it is to understand this and always use your best judgement regardless of what the current TCCOR may be.
TCCOR 1 Caution: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 12 hours. Actual winds are 34-49 knots.
All nonessential personnel will be released to their quarters at this time. DoDDS schools will close at this time. Staff and teachers return home or remain home. Base exchange, shops, Commissary, Shoppettes, Gas Station, Services facilities, Clubs, Restaurants, Recreational Facilities and Post Office will close. Movement about the base should be kept to a minimum. SFS will enforce “essential vehicles only”policy.(Reference Base O-Plan 32-1 “Base Disaster Operations Plan)
Although we have been experiencing storm conditions up to this point TCCOR 1 Caution is best known for being the level when everything starts to close. Once TCCOR 1 Caution is announced all base workers go home with the exception of nonessential personnel. If you are not a base employee this is a great indicator that you should be off the roads and in your homes waiting for the storm to pass.
Whether or not TCCOR 1 Caution will be declared for a particular storm really depends on the Commander as I mentioned above. There have been a number of storms in the past 7 years that have not seen a TCCOR 1 Caution but still did a lot of damage so again as I mentioned use your best judgement and common sense.
TCCOR 1 Emergency:
TCCOR 1 Emergency: Actual winds of 50 knots or greater.
All outside activity is prohibited.
Much like TCCOR 1 Caution this level is not declared for every storm that we experience. At this point all outside activity is “prohibited” according to the US Military.
TCCOR 1 Recovery:
TCCOR 1 Recovery: Destructive winds of 50 knots are no longer occurring. Actual winds are 34-49 knots.
Nonessential functions remain closed unless directed by the commander. All but emergency essential personnel remain in their quarters.
TCCOR 1 Recovery is declared after the storm’s worst winds have passed. . . . sometimes. In other cases this level is skipped over and we move right down to ‘All Clear”.
If it is declared it’s important to remember that the storm is not over yet. We’re still likely experiencing some nasty winds. In recent years TCCOR 1 Recovery has been used as a time when select base personnel assess and clear damage around the bases. This doesn’t not make it safe to go out, however, by any means. Actual winds are still 35-49 knots making it just below the dangerous conditions of TCCOR 1 Emergency.
Storm Watch: The typhoon is moving away but the base is still feeling some effects. Hazardous conditions may exist due to storm damage. In some cases the storm could return to Okinawa , so stay alert.
All military and civilian personnel will return to work within 2 hours or at normal duty hours unless otherwise instructed by their commander. The Commissary and BX will resume operations, unless directed otherwise by the installation commander.
Within a few hours of the storm moving away we may find ourselves in Storm Watch. During this level the storm has moved away and although there may still be some residual wind and rain it is not anticipated that we will feel any further typhoon conditions. This, however, is not always the case and in the past storms have changed course slightly coming back towards Okinawa. That being said it is always important to continue following the weather during Storm Watch.
Although Storm Watch is often skipped over like TCCOR 1 Recovery when it is declared the base begins to function regularly. All military and civilian personnel are to return to work within 2 hours or at their regularly scheduled time of duty the next work day depending on the time when Storm Watch is declared. The only time that this is not the case is if the Commander of a particular base announces differently.
All Clear: Hazardous conditions and winds are no longer present. Return to normal duties. All Clear is announced when all hazards have been cleared.
DoDDS teachers, staff and students will return to school during normal hours. From June 1st to November 30th Okinawa will return to TCCOR 4.
Last but not least we have All Clear. As I mentioned above All Clear is usually announced once the storm has shown that it is moving away. Declaration of All Clear indicated quite literally that everything has gone back to normal and that all hazards have been cleared. Although it may be true that hazards have been cleared on the bases it is not always the base for the roads throughout Okinawa so great caution should be used when moving back to work, school or wherever you are required to go.
As you can see TCCOR is a guide that you can certainly use to assist you in your storm preparations and riding out the storm itself, however, it is always important to ensure you are paying close attention to what is happening around you as well.