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Posted at 02:39 PM ET, 09/19/2011

Typhoon Roke charging towards Japan

Radar image at 2:20 p.m. EDT showing Typhoon Roke ( Japan Meteorological Agency )
Less than two weeks after Typhoon Talas claimed at least 54 lives in Japan, the disaster-ravaged country braces for Typhoon Roke, positioned about 630 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center describes an intensifying storm with “deepening convective bands wrapping into a ragged eye.” Forecast to accelerate northeastward, some additional strengthening is possible in the next 24 hours.

Then, Roke will encounter colder waters, hostile wind shear, and likely begin weakening. Nonetheless, it is forecast to make landfall near Kyoto in about 30 hours or 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday at strong tropical storm (peak winds of around 70 mph), just under typhoon strength ( winds of 74 mph or higher). Minor to moderate wind damage is possible where the storm makes landfall.

Historic and forecast track of Typhoon Roke. (Joint Typhoon Warning Center)
Its rapid movement means it probably won’t be the profilic rainmaker Talas was, which, according to EarthWeek, “dumped a record of nearly 8 feet of rainfall on the Nara prefecture community of Kamikitayam.”

AccuWeather, however, is still calling for peak rainfall to reach 10 inches or more - “enough to trigger flooding and landslides in the mostly hilly to mountainous landscape.”

The Mainichi Daily News described impressive downpours that occurred on Japan’s southwestern islands Sunday:

....violent storms occurred in Okinawa and Kyushu Island in southwestern Japan, with precipitation of 67.5 millimeters per hour in Okinawa’s Kitadaito Island and 56.0 mm in Gokase, a record for September in the Miyazaki Prefecture town

Before Sunday, Roke had charted a curious course, making a full 360 degree loop south of Japan before turning north. Stars and Stripes blogger Dave Ornauer described it as “long a case study for the most unusual of weather systems.”

By  |  02:39 PM ET, 09/19/2011

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