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Super Typhoon Lekima
Updated: 8/9/2019 11:39:31 AM
A red typhoon warning has been issued for the coast of Taiwan, Hangzhou Bay, Yangtze River Estuary, coastal regions of Zhejiang, Shanghai and southern Jiangsu, China, while a red warning for heavy rain, strong wind, high waves, and storm surge is in effect over the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. The center of the tropical cyclone moved between Miyakojima and Ishigakijima, Japan after 11:00 UTC, August 8, producing wind gusts to 124 km/h and 112 km/h, respectively. Lekima then moved north of Taiwan and is now weakening as it closes in on eastern China.
Residents in Taiwan and Japan are bracing for Typhoon Lekima, which has become a super typhoon by the time it hits a Japanese island chain on Thursday.
Lekima, the first serious typhoon of the season, strengthened to Super Typhoon with a sustained wind speed of 241km/h (equiv. to category 4 hurricane), was joined by Typhoon Krosa, that intensified to category 3 Equiv. with sustained winds of 185 km/h.
Japan's southern Ryukyu Islands, which stretch north of Taiwan to the Japanese island of Kyushu, are expected to be hardest hit Thursday night. The chain of islands includes Okinawa, with a population of 1.4 million people.
The storm is expected to come closest to Taiwan Friday morning local time before moving toward the China coast, south of Shanghai, Saturday evening. By the time it hits China, it could still be equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane with winds up to 160 kph (about 100 mph), which could bring significant wind damage and flooding up the Chinese coast over the weekend.
In preparation, Japan, China, and Taiwan have issued severe weather warnings and are ordering residents to prepare for the typhoon.
Japan's Meteorological Agency has issued warnings for high waves, thunderstorms, storm surges and gales across the Ryukyu Islands. The warnings are a step up from alerts -- but are not yet at the level of emergency warning, the highest advisory level.
The cities of Miyakojima and Ishigaki, both in the Ryukyu island chain, have issued an evacuation advisory -- classified as level 4 among the 5 levels of evacuation orders. The two cities collectively are home to about 104,000 people.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau issued sea and land warnings, asking residents to be prepared for strong winds and rain in five vulnerable areas -- Keelung City, Yilan County, New Taipei City, Taipei City, and Hualien County. The Bureau also warned ships to Taiwan's north and along the east coast to be "alert" to extreme weather.
The Taiwan Central Emergency Operation Center is also warning residents to take preventative measures such as taking down hanging objects and potted plants in homes and avoiding the beach. Meanwhile, government authorities and agencies including the National Fire Agency have convened to discuss disaster response.
China's flood control body has issued a warning to seven provinces, including Fujian, Jiangsu, and Shanghai Municipality, asking local officials to prepare for the typhoon and launch emergency response systems, according to state media agency Xinhua.
Asia last saw a super typhoon in September, when Super Typhoon Mangkhut wreaked havoc across China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Millions of residents were evacuated, and at least 54 people died.