Powerful typhoon could hit Japan on weekend

Typhoon Trami is seen from the International Space Station as it moves in the direction of Japan on Wednesday. (ESA/NASA-A.Gerst/Reuters photo)

TOKYO: A powerful typhoon in the Pacific is heading toward Japan and could hit the Japanese archipelago on the weekend, the weather agency said on Friday.

Typhoon Trami is expected to approach Okinawa on Saturday and western Japan the following day, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The agency warned of strong winds, high waves and torrential rains, while forecasting increased rainfalls in wide areas of eastern and western Japan even if they avoid a direct hit by the typhoon.

As of 2 pm Friday (12pm Thailand time), the season’s 24th typhoon was travelling west-northwest around 300 kilometres southeast of Miyako Island at a speed of 10 kilometres per hour, with an atmospheric pressure of 950 hectopascals at its center and packing winds of up to 216 kph, according to the agency.

Stormy weather is already reported in the sea near Okinawa and Amami islands, and the agency said Okinawa may see winds of up to 252 kph and waves of up to 12 metres through Saturday. It may also get up to 200 millimetres of rain in the 24 hours to Saturday noon.

In the following 24 hours, Okinawa, southern Kyushu and Shikoku islands are expected to get up to 500 mm of rain, while other regions are forecasted to receive up to 400 mm, the agency said.

Passengers stranded at Kansai international airport due to powerful Typhoon Jebi queue outside the airport as they wait for the arrival of a special bus service to transport them out of the area on Sept 5. (Kyodo/Reuters photo)

Japan has already been hit by a series of typhoons this year, including Typhoon Jebi, which ripped through western Japan and caused catastrophic damage earlier this month.

Kansai international airport, the main international gateway to the region, was forced to close after a runway and a terminal building were flooded amid high tides as the typhoon made landfall on Sept 4. The airport only resumed full operations on Sept 21.

The typhoon also caused a tanker to smash into a bridge connecting the airport and the mainland and damaged it, stranding thousands of people at the airport at one point.

Western Japan was already reeling from damage caused by floods and mudslides triggered by torrential rain in July and the preceding downpour brought by Typhoon Prapiroon.

The disaster left over 220 people dead in 15 prefectures, with the three prefectures of Ehime, Hiroshima and Okayama hit the hardest.

It also caused at least 245.5 billion yen (70 billion baht) in damage to the agricultural and fishery sectors, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

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