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Typhoon Pabuk, a massive, powerful storm system, is moving northward in the Pacific Ocean south of the Japanese archipelago and may directly hit western Japan this evening or early Wednesday, the Meteorological Agency said Monday.

Strong winds caused by Pabuk have already disrupted sea and air traffic in the southwestern part of the country, airlines and steamship companies said.

The 11th typhoon of the season, Pabuk, which means “big freshwater fish” in Laotian, was about 250 km southeast of the island of Tanegashima at 3 p.m. on Monday and moving north at 15 kph, the agency said.

It had an atmospheric pressure of 960 hectopascals at its center and was packing winds of up to 126 kph. The typhoon was expected to turn southern Kyushu into a storm zone as early as Monday night.

Pabuk is expected to shift course slightly eastward and create violent winds over a radius of about 200 km from a point roughly 40 km south-southeast of Wakayama, as early as 3 p.m. today.

The agency warned that heavy rain from the typhoon may cause landslides and other damage.

On Monday, gusts topping 129 kph were measured in Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture, at 1:50 p.m., and Kyushu’s Tanegashima logged winds as high as 108 kph at 12:50 p.m.

There is concern the typhoon’s slow speed will exacerbate damage in the areas it hits. The storm may also coincide with some of the year’s highest tides this evening.

Downpours are expected in many regions. Up to 250 to 300 mm of rain is expected in some areas in southern Kyushu, Shikoku and the Kii Peninsula in western Japan, 150 to 200 mm in the Kinki region of western Japan, and 100 to 150 mm in Okinawa, the Amami Islands and northern Kyushu.

More than 40 flights connecting Miyazaki airport and Haneda, Itami, Fukuoka and Naha airports have been canceled due to strong winds, airline officials said.

Ferries between Beppu, Oita Prefecture, and Osaka; and Kokura, Fukuoka Prefecture, and Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture; have also been canceled. All high-speed boats linking Fukuoka and Pusan, South Korea, have been canceled except for the first run.

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