Japan braces for possible strongest typhoon in 25 years

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-03 18:31:51|Editor: Li Xia
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TOKYO, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Japan is bracing for a powerful typhoon which is currently carving a path towards Japan's southern Pacific coast, the weather agency here said Monday, warning that the typhoon could make landfall on Tuesday and be the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said "Typhoon Jebi" could first make landfall in the Shikoku region on Tuesday, but has said that those in a wide area across the archipelago should be on high alert for strong winds, torrential downpours, high waves, floods and landslides.

The JMA said that Jebi was traveling in north-northwest trajectory in the Pacific Ocean south of Japan's main island of Honshu at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour as of 3 p.m. (local time).

It has an atmospheric pressure of 945 hectopascals, the agency said, and is packing winds of up to 216 kph at its center.

At an emergency press briefing on the matter Monday, an official from the weather agency was quoted as saying that the typhoon has been categorized as "very strong" by the agency and based on the strength of its top winds, it could be the strongest typhoon to make landfall in Japan since 1993.

"Rainstorms will likely intensify suddenly as the typhoon is approaching while picking up speed," the official said, warning people to prepare for evacuations and not go outside unless absolutely necessary.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting of the government and ruling parties on Tuesday that Japan has been struck by a number of powerful storms and typhoons recently and the government must be prepared in advance of Jebi's arrival.

"We have seen typhoons and torrential rains. The government will do its utmost to prevent disaster," the Japanese leader said.

The JMA said that Jebi is likely to make landfall on the main island of Shikoku or the Kii Peninsula on Tuesday and then chart a course over the Sea of Japan. At this point, the typhoon may be downgraded to an extra-tropical cyclone.

The JMA said strong winds of up to 216 kph could be expected as Jebi hits the Shikoku and Kinki regions, and gusts of up to 162 kph could affect wide swathes of Japan, spanning the Tohoku, Tokai and Hokuriku regions.

Japan's capital city Tokyo may also be battered by powerful winds on Tuesday, the agency said, despite the typhoon not tracking a course particularly close to the capital.

As much as 150 millimeters of rain may fall in some regions in western, eastern and central Japan through Tuesday morning, the agency said.

"Typhoon Jebi is expected to make landfall while maintaining very strong power. Extreme winds are expected not only in western Japan, but also wide areas of the country from north to east," Ryuta Kurora from the Japan Meteorological Agency said at an emergency press conference.