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Okinawa braces for its first strong typhoon of season

Date Posted: 2011-05-26

Typhoon Songda is tracking along a collision course for Okinawa and then mainland Japan, a totally unwanted storm in the aftermath of the March 11th Great Tohoku Earthquake in eastern Japan.

Songda is brushing the eastern side of the Philippines today, heading toward Ishigaki tomorrow packing winds of 110 knots (126mph), gusting to 135 knots (155mph). Okinawa should begin feeling the effects of wind and rains beginning about 1 a.m. tomorrow, with the typhoon passing 11 miles west of Kadena in the overnight hours Saturday.

Songda is expected to threaten Japan over the weekend and early next week. There is a slight chance that Songda could re-curve enough that it would spare much of Japan and only bring rain and wind to the Ryukyu Islands. However, it appears that the storm will track close enough to bring at least some heavy rainfall and gusty winds to southern and eastern parts Japan, including Kyushu, Shikoku and portions of Honshu.
The threat even remains for the storm to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the areas devastated by the recent tsunami and nuclear radiation. This storm system bears close watching as even the slightest change in track will have significant ramifications for these areas. The Japan Update website will track the latest information on Typhoon Songda.

The fourth storm of the officially not-yet-typhoon-season that begins June 1st, Typhoon Songda is already being labeled the worst typhoon for Japan since a super typhoon of the same name pummeled Okinawa and mainland Japan in September 2004. Super Typhoon Songda was catastrophic, killing 22 plus another 15 still missing, injuring 700, and causing damages of $2.64 billion as it trekked north from Okinawa up the Japanese west coast. It was the worst of 29 storms—19 of them typhoons and seven super typhoons—in 2004, causing damages in excess of $22.5 billion.

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