Super Typhoon Neoguri Is Bearing Down on Japan

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 7 2014 5:00 PM

The First Super Typhoon of 2014 Is Bearing Down on Japan

1586v1_20140707stneoguri
Super Typhoon Neoguri

Courtesy of NOAA

Japan is under threat from the strongest storm so far this year in the Pacific Ocean.

The storm called Neoguri—Korean for raccoon—reached Super Typhoon status early Monday Japan time. It now packs sustained winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour), according to the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Advertisement

It appears Neoguri will make a direct hit on the island of Miyakojima (which has about 55,000 people) early Tuesday Japan time, battering the shore with waves up to 40 feet high. Japan has issued an emergency typhoon warning—tokubetsu keihō 特別警報—for Miyakojima, the first time such a high-level warning has been issued since a special alert system was introduced last year, according to The Japan News.

Though it should track farther west than predicted in earlier forecasts, Neoguri could also be one of the strongest storms that nearby Okinawa—an island of 1.3 million people—has experienced since comprehensive records began in 1945. The U.S. military began evacuating aircraft on Sunday from the biggest Air Force base in the Pacific in preparation for the storm, which Brig. Gen. James Hecker said would be the strongest typhoon to hit the island in 15 years. In a message to Kadena Air Force Base on Saturday, Hecker said simply: “This is not just another typhoon.”

The storm will impact the Japanese mainland later in the week, making landfall near Nagasaki around midday Wednesday as a still-intense storm bearing sustained winds of 125 mph (200 kph), and passing over most of Japan during the following 24 hours as it weakens. The storm is forecasted to still be close to typhoon strength near Tokyo on Thursday afternoon. Heavy rain, coastal storm surge, and mudslides are expected to be the primary risk.

wp0814_4
Typhoon Neoguri is forecasted to affect Japan for much of the week, though as a weaker storm.

Image courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center

Earlier in its life, Neoguri strengthened from Tropical Storm to the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in less than 24 hours over some of the warmest waters on Earth, east of the Philippines. Hurricane and Typhoon are different names for the same phenomenon: an intense ocean storm that draws its energy from warm water and a core of rotating thunderstorms, typically more than one hundred miles wide.

Believe it or not, it could have been worse. Early forecasts for Neoguri were simply monstrous: The Euro model, consistently the most accurate at forecasting tropical systems, at one point forecasted the storm to deepen into one of the most intense ever recorded in the Pacific and for its circulation to swell to hundreds of miles across.

The huge size forecast has proven accurate, with meteorologists making comparisons to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the U.S. East Coast:

On Saturday, Astronaut Reid Wiseman captured a stunning view of Neoguri from the International Space Station:

However, despite an impressive appearance from space, the storm has had trouble maintaining a persistent ring of intense thunderstorms in its eyewall over the past day or so, a sign that a weakening trend could be approaching more quickly than anticipated.

mtvs
Super Typhoon Neoguri near its peak strength on Monday

Courtesy of NOAA

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate’s Future Tense. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 12:43 PM Watch Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey Do a Second City Sketch in 1997
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.