Typhoon Tapah slams Okinawa and moves toward Kyushu, closing some Rugby World Cup fanzones

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI, Staff Report

A large, strong typhoon churning over Okinawa Prefecture on Saturday threatened to bring heavy rain and winds to wide areas of Japan over the weekend, the Meteorological Agency said.

Typhoon Tapah, which strengthened overnight Friday and was upgraded from a tropical storm, will also affect the Korean Peninsula.

According to NHK, Tapah, the season’s 17th typhoon, injured at least 14 people in Okinawa Prefecture on Saturday. In addition, some 28,500 houses and other buildings in 30 Okinawa municipalities suffered power outages, NHK said.

Rugby World Cup organizers issued an extreme weather warning and closed two fanzones Saturday as Tapah approached, but they said matches are expected to escape unscathed.

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, Tapah was traveling north in the East China Sea at a speed of 20 kph, according to the agency, with its winds and rain affecting Okinawa as well as parts of Taiwan and China. It had an atmospheric pressure of 970 hectopascals at its center and was packing wind gusts of up to 180 kph.

More than 120 mm of rain fell in a single hour on Saturday morning around the city of Miyazaki on the main island of Kyushu.

Winds of up to 162 kph are expected in Okinawa and northern Kyushu through Sunday, the agency said. In the 24-hour period through noon Sunday, up to 250 mm of rain is expected in Kyushu and up to 180 mm is forecast to fall in Shikoku, according to the agency.

After moving over Okinawa, the storm was forecast to travel through the Sea of Japan over the three-day weekend before approaching northern Honshu and Hokkaido.

As of Saturday afternoon, the storm’s center was forecast to track between the Korean Peninsula and Kyushu overnight on Sunday, weakening only slightly.

Impact on the ongoing Rugby World Cup appeared minor. The storm was set to arrive too late to affect the two matches being played in Hokkaido this weekend — Australia faced Fiji on Saturday and England will take on Tonga on Sunday.

“The typhoon could bring high winds and heavy rain to the southern island of Kyushu on the evening of 22 September and into 23 September,” World Rugby said in a statement.

“While no match disruption is anticipated at this stage, we have advised teams of potential disruption to training and team movements as a precautionary measure,” added the statement.

Fanzones in Kumamoto and Fukuoka have also been temporarily closed as a precaution, organizers said, stressing that typhoons “are a normal occurrence in Japan and the vast majority have a minimal impact on daily life.”

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