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Typhoon Vongfong Bears Down On Japan

Typhoon Vongfong in a photograph taken by NASA's Terra satellite.
NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
Typhoon Vongfong in a photograph taken by NASA's Terra satellite.

The most powerful typhoon so far this year is barreling toward southern Japan for a landfall in Okinawa on Saturday.

Even the name, Vongfong (Cantonese for "the wasp") sounds ominous. Earlier classified as a "super typhoon," Vongfong is expected to still be a very strong storm, packing sustained winds of more than 100mph, when it hits land. It briefly spun up to the strongest typhoon since Haiyan, which devastated parts of the Philippines last year.

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"There is no question that it is an extremely large, extremely powerful typhoon," said an official at Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) who was quoted by Reuters. "It's the strongest storm we've had this year, definitely, although it has lost some strength from its peak."

The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog says the storm covers "about 340,000 square miles – about 70,000 square miles larger than the state of Texas."

Vongfong will first hit Japan's Okinawa Prefecture, including Kadena Air Base, before moving on to the main island of Honshu.

Capital Weather Gang says: "While Vongfong is expected to make a quick departure from Japan as it transitions to a non-tropical system, it will still bring heavy rain to Japan. Eight to 12 inches of rain is possible from the typhoon in the far southeast prefectures, with widespread totals of three to five inches across the southern half of the country."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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