Powerful typhoon expected to make landfall over northeast Japan
A strong typhoon was on course Tuesday for a direct hit on northeastern Japan, with authorities warning of heavy rain and high waves along the Pacific coast.
As of 10 a.m., typhoon Lionrock was moving over the Pacific Ocean some 180 kilometers southeast off Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture, and heading northwest at a speed of about 35 km per hour, packing winds of up to 180 kmph with an atmospheric pressure of 965 hectopascals near its center, the agency said.
That would make it the first typhoon to directly land in the region from the Pacific Ocean since the country’s present weather observation system was introduced in 1951, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Typhoons usually approach Japan from the south and southwest before moving northward across the archipelago.
Lionrock, which formed more than 10 days ago, has become the longest-lasting typhoon of those that have developed north of the 30th parallel north, breaking a 46-year-old record, according to the private Weathernews agency.
The previous record-holding typhoon in that category was in 1970, which survived for nine days and six hours, Weathernews said on its website.
Authorities have issued warnings for torrential rain, high waves, strong winds and flooding for the northeastern region, which remains vulnerable after destruction brought about by a March 2011 tsunami generated by a massive magnitude 9.0 offshore earthquake.
It is also expected to hit the region at high tide, deepening concerns for flooding along the coast from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.
Authorities also warned of landslides and high water due to expected heavy rain of up to eight centimetres per hour.
“The most significant factor will be heavy rain,” agency chief forecaster Tsumoru Matsumoto told a press briefing. “In advance of the typhoon’s approach, we expect heavy rain in wide areas in eastern and northern Japan.”
Some 110 domestic flights have been cancelled, public broadcaster NHK said.
Lionrock is expected to cut across the country’s main island of Honshu and head out to sea towards Russia and China, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The typhoon comes on the heels of two others that hit Japan in the past nine days, resulting in two deaths, the cancellation of hundreds of domestic flights and disruptions to train services.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who attended a weekend Africa aid conference in Nairobi, left Kenya hours earlier than planned to get back before the storm hits.