TOKYO – A powerful typhoon, the second in a week, was barreling toward the Okinawa islands in southern Japan on Saturday, prompting warnings about torrential rainfall and fierce wind gusts.
Weather officials have cautioned about Typhoon Haishen for the last several days, urging people to brace for what could be a record storm and be ready to take shelter and stock up on food and water.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said Haishen, packing sustained winds of up to 180 kilometers (112 miles) per hour early Saturday, was on course to hit Okinawa by Sunday, and later the main southern island of Kyushu.
But the pouring rain, high tides and winds will hit before the typhoon, the agency said.
Okinawa is home to more than half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops based in Japan under a bilateral treaty.
Haishen, or “sea god” in Chinese, was moving northward at 15 kph (9 mph) from out at sea, south of Minami Daito, an island to the south of Japan. The projected course has Haishen hitting the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday.
Meteorological agency official Yoshihisa Nakamoto said he was concerned about people staying home instead of fleeing because of fears about the coronavirus.
“You should not avoid getting out because of such fears," he told reporters, stressing that local communities will have social distancing measures in place at evacuation locales.