Typhoon Neoguri, a large and powerful storm was heading northwest toward Japan's southern islands Monday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, warning of heavy rains, landslides and floods. Photo: AP/TBS.
TOKYO—A large and powerful typhoon was heading northwest toward Japan's southern islands Monday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, warning of heavy rains, landslides and floods.
As of Monday afternoon, Typhoon Neoguri was moving up the Pacific Ocean toward Okinawa at a speed of 25 kilometers per hour (16 miles an hour) with winds of up to 180 kph and gusts as strong as 252 kph, the agency said.
"It would be one of the largest typhoons to hit Japan in July," said Satoshi Ebihara, the head of the agency's weather forecast division, at a news conference.
The season's eighth typhoon is expected to approach Okinawa's Miyako Island with full force by Tuesday morning with gusts of up to 270 kph. With the typhoon's center expected to sweep the western edge of Okinawa, the agency issued its highest warning to the Miyako island area Monday evening.
"We issue special warnings when we anticipate immense damage of a scale only seen every few decades," an agency official said.
It was the first time for the agency to issues a special warning for a typhoon since the current warning system was introduced last August.
Okinawa is home to a large U.S. military presence and is frequently in the path of typhoons. The agency said the island's infrastructure was generally more resilient to storms compared with other areas in Japan.
To respond to the typhoon, the state minister in charge of disaster management, Keiji Furuya, canceled a trip to the U.S. that was to begin Tuesday. The crisis management center at the prime minister's office also set up a special office to share information among ministries.
This MTSAT Rainbow satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday shows Typhoon Neoguri heading toward Japan. EPA/NOAA
"I ask citizens to pay careful attention to the latest weather information and typhoon warnings," the government's main spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters Monday, urging people to prepare to evacuate if necessary.
After passing Okinawa, the typhoon is expected to turn eastward Wednesday morning toward Kagoshima on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, bringing heavy rains and winds. Kyushu has already been pummeled by rain since Sunday, prompting the meteorological agency to issue landslide warnings in some areas.
The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center has designated Neoguri a "super-typhoon," a category it uses for typhoons with winds more than 240 kph.