Japan’s Okinawa lashed by Typhoon Neoguri

Typhoon - Public Domain

A powerful typhoon has lashed Japan’s Okinawa island chain, forcing hundreds of thousands to seek shelter.

Typhoon Neoguri passed over the islands on Tuesday, bringing torrential rain and winds carrying gusts of up to 252km/h (151 mph).

Flights and some ferry services were suspended, while schools were shut. The winds uprooted trees and tore wooden buildings from their foundations.

Local officials said at least four people were injured.

About 590,000 local residents across Okinawa were advised to stay at home or move to community centres for shelter.

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Super Typhoon Neoguri: Okinawa, Japan in Path of Strongest Typhoon So Far in 2014

Typhoon - Public Domain

The system became a typhoon – the Western Pacific equivalent of a hurricane – on Friday. Neoguri is currently turning northward about 280 miles south-southwest of Kadena Air Base, the U.S. Air Force installation on the island of Okinawa.

The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimated Neoguri’s sustained winds to be as high as 150 miles per hour as of late Monday morning U.S. time (about midnight Tuesday Japanese time), with higher gusts. This makes Neoguri the equivalent of a high-end Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

When Neoguri’s winds reached an estimated 150 mph earlier Sunday, it earned the “super typhoon” designation from JTWC. Neoguri means “raccoon” in Korean, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

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