National

Powerful Typhoon Trami could hit wide areas of Japan over the weekend

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

A powerful typhoon is heading toward Japan and could hit the archipelago over the weekend, the Meteorological Agency said Friday.

Typhoon Trami is expected to approach Okinawa on Saturday and western Japan the following day, according to the agency. It warned of strong winds, high waves and torrential rain while forecasting increased rainfall across wide areas of the country, including regions that aren’t in the direct path of the typhoon.

“As it is forecast to go across Japan at a high speed, we are urging people to be vigilant” in the days ahead, the agency’s Sakiko Nishioka said. In a statement the agency added: “Please be on high alert against violent winds, high waves and heavy rainfall.”

As of 9 p.m. Friday, the season’s 24th typhoon was traveling north-northwest around 200 kilometers (124 miles) east-southeast of Miyako Island at a speed of 15 kph (9.3 mph), with an atmospheric pressure of 950 hectopascals at its center and packing winds of up to 216 kph (134 mph), according to the agency.

Stormy weather had already been reported in the ocean near Okinawa and the Amami islands, and the agency said Okinawa may experience winds of up to 252 kph (156 mph) and waves of up to 12 meters (about 40 feet) through Saturday. Up to 200 mm (8 inches) of rain was forecast to fall in the 24 hours to Saturday at noon.

In the following 24 hours, Okinawa, southern Kyushu and Shikoku are expected to see up to 300 mm of rain, the agency said.

The government set up a crisis management team Friday to prep for the typhoon and gather information from related ministries and agencies.

Airlines including Japan Airlines Co. and ANA Holdings Inc. had already canceled more than 300 flights taking off from and landing at airports in Kagoshima and Okinawa as of Friday.

Japan has been hit by a series of typhoons already this year, including Typhoon Jebi — which ripped through Kansai 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 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 the only bridge connecting the airport to the mainland and damage 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 across 15 prefectures. Ehime, Hiroshima and Okayama were hit the hardest.

It also caused at least ¥245.5 billion in damage to the agricultural and fishery sectors, according to the farm ministry.