Vongfong carries wind gusts of up to 160 mph
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 October, 2014 - Japan was bracing on Friday for its strongest storm this year, a super typhoon powering north toward the Okinawa island chain that threatens to rake a wide swathe of the nation with strong winds and torrential rain. Vongfong, which at one point rivaled last year's devastating typhoon Haiyan in strength, was weakening slightly as it moved north across the open ocean, but still carried winds gusting as high as 259 kph (160 mph).
"There is no question that it is an extremely large, extremely powerful typhoon," said an official at Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA). "It's the strongest storm we've had this year, definitely, although it has lost some strength from its peak."
The storm, which will be Japan's second typhoon in a week, was south of Okinawa, the home of the largest contingent of U.S. troops in Japan, and moving north at 10 kph (6 mph) with sustained winds of 185 kph (114 mph), the JMA said. It was likely to be closest to Okinawa, an island chain 1,600 km (1,000 miles) southwest of Tokyo, late on Saturday or early on Sunday.
It was expected to weaken as it moved north, and likely to hit land on Sunday on the westernmost main island of Kyushu, before heading northeast toward Japan's largest main island of Honshu. Tokyo was set for heavy rain, at the worst.
Tropical Storm Risk, which tracks typhoons, labeled Vongfong as a Category 4 typhoon, set to weaken to Category 3 on Saturday and Category 1 before hitting Kyushu.
Vongfong was following the path of Phanfone, a typhoon that slammed the mainland on Monday, disrupting transport and prompting evacuation advisories for hundreds of thousands of people. Seven people were killed, including three U.S. airmen swept out to sea and a man who died while surfing.