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Super typhoon lashes Ishigaki with record winds

Date Posted: 2007-09-21

Only a week after Typhoon Nari set new wind records in Okinawa, Super Typhoon Wipha has broken them on Ishigaki Island.

Super Typhoon Wipha roared across Okinawa Prefecture Tuesday, packing record winds of 70 meters per second (156.6 miles per hour), eclipsing Nari’s record breaking bluster of 62.8 m/s (140.5 mph) last week. Air traffic between Ishigaki and Miyakojima was shut down, tourists were stranded at the two airports, and ferries stayed in port. More than 7,500 travelers were reported waiting for the storm to pass.

Typhoon Nari hit Kumejima last Friday and Saturday, uprooting trees, flipping cars and blowing out building windows. Aside from the winds, Nari dumped more than 120mm (6”) of rain, including 45mm (1.8”) in a single hour.

Super Typhoon Wipha produced even more rainfall, 300mm (11.8”) on Ishigaki Island, and 250mm (9.8”) on Miyakojima. Weather observers issued flood warnings, and government agencies added landslide warnings for the islands.

Iriomote Island felt the storm’s wrath about 8 a.m. Tuesday with 65.9 m/s winds that plunged more than 10,600 homes into darkness. Wipha’s winds were the second highest to ever hit the island. Some 1,200 homes were reported without telephone service. On Ishigaki Island, half the homes remain without power, causing health concerns. Foods are spoiled, as refrigerators and freezers were without electricity.

Wipha has now been downgraded from a Category 5 super typhoon as it skirted China. The system is expected to be a tropical storm as it crosses into North Korea tonight.

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