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100,000 lose power, 51 injured: Typhoon Muifa brings record 24-hour rainfall

Date Posted: 2011-08-12

As a typhoon, Typhoon Muifa was only average in intensity as it bore down on Okinawa at the start to last weekend, but as a moisture-maker, it was a record-making storm.

Typhoon Muifa spent some 40 hours pummeling Okinawa’s main island, with the eye of the storm hovering just south of Itoman, but causing plenty of excitement in Uruma City’s Miyagi Island, where 49.6 meters per second sustained winds [110mph/178kph] shook neighborhoods about 2:14 a.m. Friday. Those winds gusted to 60 m/s [134mph/216kph]. The winds kept swirling for hours and hours before finally moving off to the northwest, toward Shanghai, on Saturday.

Okinawa Electric Power Company reports more than 100,000 homes were without power across the main island Friday and Saturday. Outages stretched from Naha City north to Onna Village.

The Okinawa Meteorological Observatory says rainfall exceeded anything ever before recorded, with more than 610mm falling in Motobu and 459mm in Nago City, during a 24-hour period ending at 8:40 a.m. Saturday. Another 100mm fell between 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday. Officials say the rains were the most since records were first kept three decades ago.

Winds remained at or above 30m/s [67mph/118kph] for nearly 48 hours as the storm tracked past Kumejima and moved north toward the East China Sea. A total of 71 injuries were recorded in Okinawa and charged to Typhoon Muifa. One was a newspaper deliveryman who was blown down by strong winds, breaking one of his bones. Winds blew roof-top water tanks from their fittings, while vinyl plastic hothouses were stripped of their coverings. Traffic signals were cut off, and a sugar cane field in Sashiki was cut down by strong winds. In Yonabaru, a large tree near a children’s home blew down, but no injuries were reported.

Okinawa Prefectural Police and public works offices report traffic was suspended at more than 30 locations. The Okinawa Expressway was shut down its entire length from Friday through late Saturday. The storm was enough to force large supermarkets and even some convenience stores to close. People sought refuge from the storm in public halls and schools in Nago City and Onna Village.

In Kunigami and Nakijin there were landslides, and at Shioya Bridge in Ogimi Village, a truck overturned but its driver and a passenger were not injured. In the Awase district of Okiunawa City, roads were flooded by seawater breaking from both rain and the seashore. On Katsuren Peninsula in Uruma City, Kaichu Doro and Hamahiga bridge shut down, blocking traffic from getting off the small eastern island.

All Nippon Airways canceled 16 flights from Naha Airport on Saturday. Other airlines, including Ryukyu Air Commuter and Japan Air Lines, shut down flights between Okinawa and outer islands and mainland Japan

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