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After battering Okinawa, dangerous Typhoon Neoguri targets southern Japan

Typhoon Neoguri's eye as seen from the International Space Station, July 8, 2014. (Reid Wiseman, @astro_reid)
Typhoon Neoguri’s eye as seen from the International Space Station, July 8, 2014. (Reid Wiseman, @astro_reid)

After battering Okinawa with winds over 100 mph and up to two feet of rain (preliminary estimate), Typhoon Neoguri is heading north toward the island of Kyushu in Japan. Neoguri is a massive storm, covering an area of 64,000 square nautical miles.

Typhoon Neoguri began to re-intensify in the overnight hours after a period of weakening on Monday. The storm went through what is called an “eyewall replacement cycle,” which typically causes a decrease in cyclone strength followed by an intensification as the eyewall rebuilds.

Dramatic images released on July 8 by the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites show an animated view of Typhoon Neoguri revolving in the northwest Pacific ocean. The animation was composed of images from satellites MT-SAT and Meteosat-7. (EUMESTAT via YouTube)

Although Neoguri has lost the “super typhoon” status, it remains a powerful storm. It is currently just over 100 nautical miles west of Okinawa, and is still tracking north with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, and gusts up to 155 mph.

Over 100,000 households were without power in Japan as of 6 p.m. local time, according to The Weather Channel’s Nick Wiltgen:

A preliminary rainfall total of 24.03 inches since 8 a.m. Monday was recorded at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. While this total hasn’t been confirmed yet, an incredible amount of rain is falling in the southern islands of Japan, on top of already moist and unstable ground. This puts the area at very high risk for landslides and flooding.

In addition to the flood risk, a peak wind gust of 118 mph was recorded in Tokashiki island, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Winds are still gusting hard in the storm as Neoguri passes to the west, though winds are decreasing at Kadena Air Base today, according to their recent Facebook post:

Destructive sustained winds of 50 knots are no longer occurring. Actual winds are 34-49 knots. No outdoor activity is authorized other than workers from pre-designated emergency crews.

Radar views of typhoon: Miyakojima | Okinawa | Kyushu southKyushu north

The storm is not only strong but large — in a tweet this morning, Mashable’s Andrew Freedman noted that the typhoon had a diameter that was “similar to the distance from N.C. to Maine.” The gale-force winds in the storm span an area of over 64,000 square nautical miles.  Sustained winds over 50 mph extend 100 nautical miles to the typhoon’s east today, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Via NASA: “The MODIS instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured Typhoon Neoguri in the East China Sea at 05:00 UTC (1:00 a.m. EDT) on July 8, 2014.”

International Space Station astronaut Alexander Gerst snapped this stunning photo of Neoguri this morning, noting its enormity:

Neoguri is expected to continue north for the next 24 hours or so, before a trough of low pressure pulls the storm to the northeast and across the mainland of Japan. As the typhoon makes this turn it also expected to weaken due to a number of factors, including cooler water temperature, stronger upper lever wind shear, and the impact of making landfall. While Neoguri is expected to make landfall on the island of Kyushu as a low-end typhoon (a category 1 on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale), the storm is still expected to pack a powerful punch.

The sheer size of the typhoon (much like Hurricane Sandy in 2012) means that a large amount of ocean water is in motion, and storm surge and waves will be an impact at landfall as steady winds push water onto the shore. Heavy rain bands and thunderstorms have been present on the eastern side of Neoguri today, as well, which means more rain for an already saturated Kyushu.

As Dr. Jeff Masters noted in his blog yesterday, the island of Kyushu saw 10 inches of rain on Friday. This week’s additional rainfall puts the somewhat mountainous terrain at risk for landslides and flooding, especially in areas that remain in the strong thunderstorms bands. With sustained winds around 70 mph expected upon landfall, gusts could approach and possibly exceed 90 mph, especially in the higher terrain.

Brian McNoldy noted this fantastic microwave satellite image on his Facebook page this morning:

Microwave image of Typhoon Neoguri from 0900 UTC today… moving north away from the Ryukyu Islands and toward Kyushu. One big eyewall and one enormous primary rainband show up as red in this image because of large amounts of ice in the atmosphere created in strong thunderstorms.

Microwave satellite image of Typhoon Neoguri on July 8, 2014. (Naval Research Lab, Monterey)
Microwave satellite image of Typhoon Neoguri on July 8, 2014. (Naval Research Lab)

And finally, here is some vivid raw video of the wind and rain whipping the trees and streets in Okinawa:

Typhoon Neoguri arrives in Okinawa on Tuesday with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour and gusts up to 148 mph, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. (Divya Jeswani Verma/The Washington Post)


Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Post's deputy weather editor.
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