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Typhoon Hagibis set to lash Japan's main island with record strength

The forecasted path of Typhoon Hagibis as of 6 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2019. (Image from the Japan Meteorological Agency website)
Surging waves are seen hitting a breakwater as Typhoon Hagibis approaches, in the port at Kiho, Mie prefecture, central Japan, on Oct. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Toru Hanai)

TOKYO -- Powerful Typhoon Hagibis could be the first to make landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu while still categorized as "very strong," the Japan Meteorological Agency has warned.

The agency is predicting fierce winds, rough seas and torrential rain over a wide area, as the typhoon, this year's 19th, advances toward the Japanese archipelago. The storm is expected to make landfall in the Tokai region in central Japan or the Kanto region including Tokyo late on Oct. 12, before weakening and heading northeast. Transportation operators are already planning to cut services as the country braces for the tropical storm.

Typhoon Hagibis is currently categorized as "very strong." This refers to a typhoon having a maximum wind speed near its center ranging from 44 to less than 54 meters per second, or from 158.4 to less than 194.4 kilometers per hour. According to the agency, only three typhoons of that strength have made landfall in Japan since 1991, and all of those cases were in western Japan's Shikoku and southwestern Japan's Kyushu. If Typhoon Hagibis makes landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu while maintaining its strength, it would mark the first time for such a powerful storm to do so.

This Oct. 10, 2019 satellite photo taken by NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite shows typhoon Hagibis approaching Japan, center left. (NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System via AP)

As of 3 p.m. on Oct. 11, Typhoon Hagibis was located over the sea south-southwest of Hachijoima, an island south of Tokyo. The typhoon had a central atmospheric pressure of 925 hectopascals, with maximum wind speeds near its center of 50 m/s (180 kph). Its maximum wind gust speeds were reaching 70 m/s (252 kph).

Over the 24-hour period up until 6 p.m. on Oct. 12, the typhoon is expected to bring up to 800 millimeters of rain to the Tokai region in central Japan. Elsewhere, maximum predicted rainfalls stand at 500 millimeters in the Kanto-Koshin region, 350 millimeters in the Izu island chain south of Tokyo, 300 millimeters in the Kinki region in western Japan, 200 millimeters in the Hokuriku region on the Sea of Japan coast and Shikoku region in western Japan, and 150 millimeters in the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan and Chugoku region in western Japan.

Railway operators planned to reduce train services when the typhoon hits, with Central Japan Railway Co. planning to suspend operations of all of its Shinkansen bullet trains between Tokyo and Nagoya stations on Oct. 12. Other train services are expected to be scaled back or suspended.

All Nippon Airways has decided to suspend 490 domestic flights on Oct. 12, while Japan Airlines will suspend 377 domestic flights on the same day.


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