The Central Weather Bureau yesterday upgraded the latest Pacific storm — Neoguri — to a super typhoon and predicted that it would bring showers to northern and eastern Taiwan.
As of 2pm yesterday, Neoguri was 640km east-southeast of Hualien County or 510km south of Okinawa and headed north-northwest. It was packing steady winds of 184kph, with gusts of up to 227kph, forecasters said.
The storm is expected to threaten Okinawa this morning and Kyushu tomorrow morning.
Although Neoguri is not likely to hit Taiwan directly, its outer bands are likely to bring rainfall, the bureau said.
Neoguri, which means racoon in Korean, was forecast to pass closest to Taiwan between yesterday and today, the bureau said, advising the public to avoid activities in waters off the east coast.
Strong gusts are possible in the coastal areas of eastern, northern and southwestern Taiwan, causing rough waves that could reach up to 6m high, forecasters said.
Major airlines announced changes to their flight schedules because of the potentially disruptive effect of Neoguri.
China Airlines canceled two round-trip flights between Taipei and Okinawa (CI120/CI121 and CI122/CI123) scheduled for today.
It also postponed flights by subsidiary Mandarin Airlines scheduled for today between Greater Taichung and Okinawa (AE2282/AE2283) and Greater Kaohsiung and Okinawa (AE280/AE281) to tomorrow.
EVA Airways said Flight BR112 from Taipei to Okinawa today is to be delayed to 5:45am tomorrow, while TransAsia Airways canceled its Taipei-Okinawa flights GE682/GE681/GE3682/GE3681 scheduled for today.
Officials in Okinawa have warned residents to stay indoors, and the US Air Force has evacuated some of its aircraft from Kadena Air Base. It began shifting some aircraft on Sunday.
“This is the most powerful typhoon forecast to hit the island in 15 years. We expect damaging winds to arrive by early Tuesday morning,” US Commander James Hecker of the 18th Wing at Kadena said in a statement posted online.
The storm, which could affect an area with a 500km radius, is expected to be downgraded by the time it hit Japan’s main islands. However, the Kyushu region — next to Honshu where Tokyo and Osaka are located — was already seeing heavy rains yesterday and officials warned of possible floods and landslides.
Additional reporting by AFP