Roke developed on September 11 to become the sixteenth named storm of the West Pacific typhoon season, and is currently located approximately 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo in Japan, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The storm recently strengthened to become the seventh typhoon of the season. Roke currently packs sustained winds of around 110 mph (175 kmph), equivalent to a strong category 2 typhoon, but the storm is expected to weaken as it moves towards southern Japan. Roke is tracking northeast at 10 mph (16 kmph) and the JTWC currently expects the storm to hit Japan’s main island of Honshu tomorrow as a category 1 typhoon. The JTWC said typhoon force winds currently extend 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the center of the storm while tropical storm-force winds extend 160 miles (260 kilometers).
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has issued severe weather warnings for central and western regions of Honshu and more than 1.3 million people have been advised to evacuate their homes in the prefectures of Aichi, Gifu, Hyogo, Miyazaki, Oita and Wakayama due to concerns about possible flooding and landslides. More than 1 million people have been issued with evacuation advisories in the city of Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture) alone over concerns that rivers may burst their banks. However, despite the advisory, city officials said only a few residents had moved into evacuation centers. No major disruption to industrial operations has been reported in the city, according to reports.
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Officials said the storm has already dumped 16 inches (400 millimeters) of rain over the past 24 hours in the southwestern prefecture of Miyazaki and forecasters warned some communities in central and western Honshu could receive about 20 inches (500 millimeters) of rain. The JMA has specifically warned of the flooding and landslide threat in the western prefecture of Wakayama after it was badly affected by Tropical Storm Talas earlier this month.
According to the JTWC, tropical storm force winds are expected to start affecting parts of southern Japan in the next 12 hours. Roke is forecast to maintain its northeasterly motion and hit southern Honshu tomorrow. The JTWC’s latest forecast indicates Roke will weaken over the next 24 hours due to wind sheer and be a category 1 typhoon as it makes landfall along southern Honshu.
The latest JTWC forecast shows the storm hitting Shizuoka Prefecture, to the west of Tokyo, with peak sustained wind speeds of around 85 mph (140 kmph). It also indicates Tokyo will fall in the northeastern quadrant of the storm, subjecting the city to Roke’s strongest winds and heaviest rain. Although there is some uncertainty associated with Roke’s forecast track, the storm is currently expected to move through eastern parts of Honshu as it continues to move in a northeasterly direction. Forecasters warned this trajectory could see the storm head towards Japan’s earthquake-hit Tohoku region, where the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is located, before moving back out to sea.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Agence France Presse, Kyodo News, Reuters News, CNN News
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