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Typhoon Halong sets its eye on Japan

Visible satellite image of the eye of Typhoon Halong on Saturday. (NASA via Michael Laca on Facebook)

After rapidly becoming the third super typhoon of 2014 over the weekend, Halong is now weakening as it heads north toward Japan. Halong, which means “descending dragon,”  will bring heavy rain to the already-drenched region of southern Japan beginning Thursday.

Typhoon Halong is a category 3 storm on the Saffir Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 115 mph and gusts up to 145 mph. On Wednesday, Halong impacted the island of Guam as a tropical storm. The island reported over 16 inches of rain and 50 mph wind gusts. Flooding, downed trees, and power outages were reported, as well.

On Friday and Saturday, Halong went through rapid intensification from a weak typhoon with winds of 75 mph to a massive super typhoon with winds of 150 mph within a period of 24 hours.

Now, as the typhoon is turning north and heading toward Japan, it is in a weaker state. The combination of an eye wall replacement cycle and cooler sea surface temperatures are helping to keep Halong from ramping up again as it travels north.

Forecast track for Typhoon Halong overlaid on sea surface temperature . (Weather Underground)

However, while wind damage will be minimal, it’s the rainfall that is worrisome for an area of Japan that is already saturated. Weather Channel meteorologist Nick Wiltgen writes,

In particular, the large island of Shikoku has seen record-breaking rainfall. Shigeto, in Kochi Prefecture, reported 1,138.5 millimeters (44.82 inches) of rain in the 72-hour period ending at 12:20 p.m. local time (0320 GMT) Monday.

Halong is expected to weaken to a category 2 on Monday, and will make landfall in Japan on Thursday or Friday. By that time, the typhoon is forecast to be a category 2 with sustained winds of around 80 mph.

Visible satellite image of Typhoon Halong on Monday. (NASA)
Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Post's deputy weather editor.
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