Super Typhoon Neoguri Bears Down on Japan

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By Brian K. Sullivan and Steven McPherson

July 7 (Bloomberg) — High winds, crashing waves and a dangerous storm surge may strike Okinawa, including its capital Naha, as Super Typhoon Neoguri nears Japan.

Neoguri carried maximum sustained winds of about 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour, making it the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale used in the U.S., according to the Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was about 283 miles south- southwest of Okinawa.

Japan has issued emergency warnings for Okinawa calling for high waves, gale-force winds, strong storm surge and thunderstorms. Heavy rain warnings are in effect for portions of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island, and for southwestern portions of Honshu, Japan’s main island. There are two idled nuclear plants on Kyushu.

The storm was moving north at 12 mph, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency. The U.S. Navy predicts the storm may reach 160 mph by tomorrow, however Jeff Masters, a founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan, thinks it may have peaked in intensity.

“The official Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast calls for Neoguri to complete its eyewall replacement cycle and intensify into a Category 5 typhoon with 160 mph winds by Tuesday,” Masters said in an e-mail. “While this is certainly possible, I think it is more likely that Neoguri has peaked in intensity, given the level of disruption to the storm apparent on satellite images.”

With winds of 160 mph, Neoguri would be the strongest storm to make landfall in the Pacific since Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last November, killing more than 6,000 people, and then went on to hit Vietnam and China as well.

In his blog, Masters said heavy rains and wind gusts of 43 mph were already reaching Naha, in southern Okinawa.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg.