Typhoon Melor is located approximately 575 miles (925 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo in Japan and has tracked north-northeast over the last six hours, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Melor is currently a Category 2 typhoon and is moving at 22 mph (35 kmph) with sustained winds of around 98 mph (157 kmph). Melor has weakened over the past 24 hours but is on track to make landfall in southern Japan as a Category 1 typhoon at around 18:00 UTC later today (02:00 on October 8, 2009 local time).
According to the JTWC, Melor looks set to continue to weaken today as it takes a turn to the northeast and encounters cooler sea surface temperatures. The latest JTWC update indicates Melor will make landfall in Wakayama Prefecture with sustained winds of around 86 mph (139 kmph) before tracking through the prefectures of Mie and Aichi. The storm is then expected to track to the north of Tokyo and across northern Japan before exiting back into the Pacific Ocean. Most of Honshu, including the capital city of Tokyo, is expected to be subjected to tropical storm-force winds and Japan’s Meteorological Agency has warned Melor will bring powerful winds, high waves, heavy rain and flooding to southern Japan. The agency said up to 20 inches (500 mm) of rainfall is expected to fall in the Tokai region. Oil refinery operations in the area are also likely to be disrupted and at least 12 cars plants have been closed, according to industry sources.
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Melor has already caused disruption in southern areas of Japan. Some property damage has been reported in Okinawa, Amami-Oshima and other southern islands and more than 10,000 homes have lost power. Elsewhere, officials said at least 145 domestic flights were grounded due to strong winds in western Japan, affecting more than 6,000 passengers, while most ferry services were suspended in the region. In Tokyo, meanwhile, officials made sandbags available to residents who wanted to protect their homes against flooding.
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.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Reuters News, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, AAP Bulletins, Platts Commodity News, Kyodo News
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