Just as Japan is beginning to recover from Typhoon Phanfone, a new and powerful system is beginning to make an appearance on the radar. Typhoon Vongfong, which means “wasp” in the Cantonese language, is building strength in the western Pacific Ocean just east of Taiwan. This powerful system has set its sights on the Ryuku Islands of Japan, and will then continue on into mainland Japan.
This typhoon has already brought flooding and damaging winds to the northern Mariana Islands on Sunday. Recorded wind gusts were about 55 mph, and 3 inches of rain was also recorded in a short period of time.
Once the middle of the week hit, Vongfong was then classified as a “super typhoon”, as it hit an area of low wind shear and warm ocean temperatures. The tropical system had reached Category 5 status, but has since been downgraded. The strength of this system had surpassed that of Super Typhoon Genevieve, which at its most powerful had winds of 160 in the West Pacific.
The storm has weakened since, and it is now classified as an equivalent of a strong Category 4 hurricane with winds of up to 138 mph. Even though it has weakened, it still poses a dangerous threat. Vongfong has slowed down, and it is predicted that the cyclone will track over Okinawa on Saturday night, then make landfall on the mainland of Japan by early next week.
This extremely strong typhoon will bring life-threatening risks over the next couple of days. The biggest threats with this typhoon are destructive winds and flash flooding. The Ryuku Islands will begin to feel Vongfong on Friday night, and it will unleash heavy rain and increasing winds onto the Kadena Air Base, which has since shut down all non-military ops due to the weather conditions.
Okinawa is directly in the path of this system, and some of the worst conditions from this cyclone will be unleased on several U.S Pacific air bases. This will cause widespread power outages, as well as flash flooding across the island. Sustained winds are predicted to reach 100 mph.
After severely battering the Ryuku Islands, the main focus will then be on Japans mainland. The worst of Vongfong that will occur on the mainland are expected to hit on late Sunday and extend through Tuesday, as typhoon force-winds and inundating rainfall spread from Southwest to northeast.
This system is predicted to weaken once it approaches the mainland, but it will still bring dangerous conditions to most of Japan with the greatest and most dangerous threats expected in Shikoku, southern Honshu, and Kyushu. There are still many areas trying to recover from over six inches of rain that hammered eastern Japan on Sunday and Monday from Typhoon Phanfone. Tokyo was inundated with over 10 inches of rain ahead and during this system.
It seems as though there may be another round of flooding in Tokyo, just one week after Phanfone passed through. The threats are the same as they were with the previous system. There are some similarities, but also differences between their tracks. The results can definitely make a small difference in track and storm speed.