Super Typhoon Neoguri, the strongest typhoon so far in the 2014 Western Pacific season, is an extremely dangerous tropical cyclone as it churns toward Okinawa and potentially other parts of Japan over the next couple of days.
The system became a typhoon – the Western Pacific equivalent of a hurricane – on Friday. Neoguri is currently turning northward about 340 miles south of Kadena Air Base, the U.S. Air Force installation on the island of Okinawa.
A LIVE TUESDAY 9:30 AM UPDATE FROM Okinawa, Japan
The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimated Neoguri’s sustained winds to be as high as 155 miles per hour as of early Monday evening U.S. time (late afternoon Monday Japanese time), with higher gusts. This made Neoguri the equivalent of a high-end Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
When Neoguri’s winds reached an estimated 150 mph earlier Sunday, it earned the “super typhoon” designation from JTWC. Neoguri means “raccoon” in Korean, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.
Western Pacific Satellite
Neoguri will continue to spin over very warm waters in a favorable atmospheric environment, allowing it to potentially become a Category 5 tropical cyclone later Monday.
(INFOGRAPHIC: Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane Facts)
Neoguri had been forecast to pass dangerously close to Okinawa on Tuesday local time (late Monday night/early Tuesday morning U.S. time). The most recent forecasts have the center passing over 100 miles to the west of Okinawa while moving north. Still, that puts the island on the stronger right-hand side of the storm, with hurricane-force winds.
Americans stationed at Kadena Air Base are preparing for the potential of a destructive storm.
(MORE: Tropical Terms You Need to Know)
The base began evacuating aircraft to other bases in the Pacific Sunday in anticipation of the typhoon. Brig. Gen. James Hecker, 18th Wing commander, said in a statement on the base’s website: “I can’t stress enough how dangerous this typhoon may be when it hits Okinawa. This is the most powerful typhoon forecast to hit the island in 15 years; we expect damaging winds to arrive by early Tuesday morning.”
Hecker upgraded the Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) to level 2, meaning 58-mph sustained winds are possible within 24 hours. Residents and base personnel have been asked to remove and secure all outdoor items immediately.
Good news on the Typhoon in Asia.
Typhoon Neoguri has weakened (currently) into a Category 3 storm, down from the much larger / stronger Cat5 just 2 days ago.
Still set to pass over the main island of Japan, the storm has made a bit of a push further West towards China — currently in the East China Sea, between Taiwan, China, and Okinawa Japan.
Forecast to pass over Japan as a Category 1 storm (less than 100mph winds).
Multiple links below for monitoring this storm, and severe weather around the world:
Current .gif animations from NOAA show “NEOGURI” pressing West towards China (North of Taiwan , Southwest of Okinawa):
Strangely , a 5.0M earthquake struck below this area as the storm came to this location between Taiwan, and Okinawa.
We’ve seen earthquakes occur below MULTIPLE other storms in Asia, and near North America.
M5.0 – 105km SE of Hualian, Taiwan 2014-07-07 23:06:05 UTC
- 2014-07-07 23:06:05 UTC
- 2014-07-08 07:06:05 UTC+08:00 at epicenter
- 2014-07-07 18:06:05 UTC-05:00 system time
23.337°N 122.374°E depth=10.0km (6.2mi)
- 105km (65mi) SE of Hualian, Taiwan
- 141km (88mi) ENE of Taitung City, Taiwan
- 149km (93mi) SSE of Su’ao, Taiwan
- 159km (99mi) ESE of Buli, Taiwan
- 851km (529mi) E of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
As I was putting this post together, ANOTHER 5.7M earthquake has struck, this time the earthquake occurred directly upon the path which “Neoguri” will be heading tomorrow. (an area in Japan which was relatively quiet for the past several weeks / months).
M5.6 – 13km NNE of Shiraoi, Japan 2014-07-08 09:05:26 UTC
- 2014-07-08 09:05:26 UTC
- 2014-07-08 18:05:26 UTC+09:00 at epicenter
- 2014-07-08 04:05:26 UTC-05:00 system time
42.661°N 141.414°E depth=37.2km (23.1mi)
- 13km (8mi) NNE of Shiraoi, Japan
- 15km (9mi) W of Tomakomai, Japan
- 26km (16mi) SW of Chitose, Japan
- 37km (23mi) SSW of Kitahiroshima, Japan
- 788km (490mi) N of Tokyo, Japan
Just a few past examples of the Hurricane / Typhoon / Cyclone / Tropical Storm earthquake connection:
Earthquake beneath Typhoons Francisco and Lekima :
The Kadena Air Base Facebook site showed residents filling sandbags in preparation for the storm. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued its highest warning Monday evening to the Miyako Island area, asking residents to prepare for the worst.
“We issue special warnings when we anticipate immense damage of a scale only seen every few decades,” an agency official told WSJ.
Air Force meteorologists with the 18th Wing Support Squadron have laid out the following timeline of impacts at Kadena AFB (all local time):
- Sustained winds over 50 mph: Tuesday morning
- Strongest winds (sustained 75 mph; gusts to 115 mph): Tuesday afternoon
- Winds fall below 50 mph sustained: Early Wednesday morning
After passing Okinawa, Neoguri is then expected go on to affect parts of the Japanese mainland by Wednesday. Though it will weaken by then, winds could still be around 100 mph by the time it reaches the main islands of Kyushu, Shikoku and western portions of Honshu, home to tens of millions of people.
Neoguri is the strongest tropical cyclone of the year in the Western Pacific basin. The season’s first typhoon, Faxai, reached minimal typhoon status with 75-mph winds in early March. It did not affect land.
Heavy rains from an unrelated system have been drenching Kyushu, the southwesternmost of Japan’s four main islands, in recent days. According to the Japan Times, parts of Nagasaki recorded the heaviest rainfall in 50 years Thursday, with over six inches of rain falling in three hours. Flash flooding inundated houses in the city and landslides were reported.
Extremely heavy rainfall continued on the island Sunday, with nearly 10 inches of rain reported at Mount Shibi, Kagoshima Prefecture in 24 hours, according to public broadcaster NHK.
An April storm named Tapah was declared a typhoon by JTWC. However, the JMA said Tapah peaked as a “severe tropical storm” with winds slightly below the 74-mph threshold.
For official purposes, the World Meteorological Organization recognizes JMA as the principal agency charged with analyzing and forecasting tropical cyclones in the Western Pacific. In the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic basins, that designation is held by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
Earthquake beneath Typhoons Francisco and Lekima :
Earthquake beneath Taiwan / Philippines typhoon Krosa :
Earthquake beneath tropical storm at Soloman Islands:
Hurricane Irene may have triggered aftershocks:
Japan was bracing Tuesday for one of its worst storms in over a decade as typhoon Neoguri barreled towards the southern Okinawa island chain, with 55,000 people urged to evacuate as the weather agency issued its highest alert.
The top-level warning means a threat to life, as well as the risk of massive damage from torrential rains and gusts of up to 250 kilometers per hour.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the alert for Okinawa’s main island, home to around 1.2 million people, as well as the outlying Miyako islands.
“We advised all 55,000 people in Miyako at 10 p.m. Monday to evacuate to facilities such as community centers and municipal buildings,” Miyako disaster official Katsuhiro Koja told AFP by telephone.
The Kadena Air Force Base, the biggest U.S. Air Force base in the Pacific, located on Okinawa’s main island, evacuated some of its aircraft as officers stressed that Neoguri may be deadly.
Waves could reach as high as 14 meters, a weather agency official said in a warning that was likely to revive memories of Japan’s quake-tsunami disaster in 2011.
The typhoon, which was downgraded from super typhoon status as it approached the islands Tuesday, was some 300 kilometers south southwest of the Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa at 6 a.m., according to the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
The storm was moving north northwest at about 13 nautical miles (24 kilometers) per hour, it said.
“Record-level violent winds and high waves are posing a serious danger to the Miyako island region,” Satoshi Ebihara, the Japanese weather agency’s chief forecaster, told an evening news conference.
“People are advised to refrain from going outdoors… evacuate if necessary before violent winds occur and take appropriate action to protect themselves,” he said.
The massive gusts and torrential rains will possibly reach Kyushu by Wednesday, a weather agency official said Monday.
The meteorological agency forecast Neoguri would dump up to 80 millimeters of rain an hour on Okinawa as it pounds the archipelago.
The storm could affect an area with a 500-kilometer radius. The Kyushu region was already seeing heavy rain Monday, and officials warned of possible floods and landslides.
“I’m calling on the heads of municipalities not to hesitate in issuing evacuation warnings and don’t be afraid of being overcautious,” Keiji Furuya, the state minister in charge of disaster management, told a government meeting.
U.S. officials at Kadena Air Force Base warned residents to take serious precautions.
“I can’t stress enough how dangerous this typhoon may be when it hits Okinawa,” Commander James Hecker of the 18th Wing stationed in Kadena said in a statement posted online.
“This is the most powerful typhoon forecast to hit the island in 15 years; we expect damaging winds to arrive by early Tuesday morning.
“So be prepared!” Hecker said. “Tie down your outdoor items and work with your neighbors to help them.”
He added: “During the typhoon, do not go outside… anything not tied down, even small items, could become deadly projectiles.”
Okinawa is regularly hit by typhoons but islanders were taking no chances, with Miyako fishermen bringing boats back to port and tying them down.
“It’s rare that we brace for a typhoon (as early as) July,” one fisherman said.