Typhoon Neoguri whips Okinawa with heavy wind and rain - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Typhoon Neoguri whips Okinawa with heavy wind and rain


By Jethro Mullen

HONG KONG (CNN) -- Typhoon Neoguri lashed the Japanese island of Okinawa with strong winds and heavy rain Tuesday, knocking out power to thousands and causing a handful of injuries, according to emergency officials.

The storm had lost strength early Tuesday, going from the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 3, said CNN International meteorologist Tom Sater.

But it still had knocked out power to at least 106,100 electric customers, according to Okinawa Electric Power Company. About 600,000 households were under evacuation advisories, but fewer than 1,000 had left, authorities said.

Officials attributed 10 injuries to the storm, only one of them serious.

Although the storm is expected to only sideswipe Okinawa, passing about 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the west, the island's main airport, schools and many businesses were closed.

Authorities at Kadena Air Base, the largest U.S. military installation in the Asia-Pacific region, told the thousands of service members and their families at the facility that all outside activity was forbidden Tuesday morning.

Okinawa, the site of multiple U.S. military facilities, regularly finds itself in the path of big typhoons. Buildings on the island are designed to withstand the powerful winds that come roaring in off the ocean.

Each summer and autumn, heavy storms roll in from the Western Pacific, often causing damage in East Asian countries such as the Philippines, China and Japan.

Fears for Kyushu

As of Tuesday night, the storm's maximum sustained winds were 157 kph (97 mph), with gusts of up to 222 kph (138 mph), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

And while the storm is expected to continue to weaken, authorities are concerned about the potential impact of rain when it reaches Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's main islands, sometime Thursday morning (Wednesday night ET).

"This is not about wind, it's all about rainfall," Sater said, noting that parts of Kyushu have already experienced heavy rains in recent days. The rivers are swollen and the ground is saturated, he said.

Authorities have already relocated about 84,000 people from areas of Kyushu vulnerable to flooding.

Seen from space

Astronaut Reid Wiseman on the International Space Station tweeted a photo over the weekend of the typhoon viewed from above, showing vast bands of cloud spiraling out from its center.

"#Typhoon Neoguri nearing Japan. Takes up our entire view. Wow," he wrote.

CNN's Will Ripley contributed to this report.


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