Super Typhoon Melor is located approximately 270 miles (435 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa in Japan and is tracking north-northwest, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Melor developed in late September and strengthened to a Category 5 typhoon as it tracked over the Pacific Ocean. Melor is now a Category 4 typhoon and is moving at 16 mph (26 kmph) with sustained winds of around 132 mph (213 kmph).
According to the JTWC, Melor is forecast to gradually take a turn to the northeast over the next 24 hours, on a track that is likely to see it make landfall in the main Japanese island of Honshu late on October 7, 2009 UTC (October 8 local time). The JTWC’s latest update indicates Melor will weaken over the next 24 hours as it encounters cooler sea surface temperatures and increased vertical wind shear and the storm is expected to approach Japan’s coastline as a Category 2 typhoon.
Due to Melor’s angle of approach to Japan, even the slightest change in projected track will have a significant impact on the landfall point. Currently, the JTWC has Melor either making landfall or skirting the prefectures of Wakayama and Mie before tracking through Aichi and the rest of the archipelago. Most of Honshu, including the capital city of Tokyo, is expected to be subjected to tropical storm-force winds as Melor moves across the island. Shipping operations in the area are likely to be disrupted, according to industry sources.
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Officials said Melor will be the first typhoon to make landfall in Japan this year. The last time a typhoon made a landfall in Japan was September 2007, when Typhoon Fitow came ashore in Kanagawa Prefecture. No typhoon made landfall in Japan last year for the first time in eight years.
Earlier, Melor passed through Guam and the Mariana Islands over the weekend, bringing heavy rain but causing minimal damage. Although hundreds of people evacuated their homes in the Mariana Islands as heavy rain triggered minor flooding, there were no reports of serious injuries or significant structural damage.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Reuters News, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, AAP Bulletins, Platts Commodity News, Kyodo News
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