Japan Sounds Emergency Warning As "Once In Decades" Supertyphoon Neoguri Approaches

Hurricane Arthur may have been, pardon us Jamie Dimon, a "tempest in a teapot" fizzling quietly in the Atlantic, but halfway around the world, a far greater storm is currently picking up speed and barreling toward Japan. As Reuters reports, Typhoon Neoguri, described as a "once in decades storm" is set to rake the Okinawa island chain with heavy rain and powerful winds. Typhoon Neoguri was already gusting at more than 250 km an hour (150 mph) and may pick up still more power as it moves northwest, growing into an "extremely intense" storm by Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

The storm was south of Okinawa but moving northwest at 25 kph (16 mph) with sustained winds of 180 kph (110 mph) by 7:00 p.m. (1000 GMT), the JMA said on its web site.

The JMA official urged people in the target areas to evacuate early and take precautions. Television showed fishermen winching their boats out of the water. A forecast of the storm path is shown below:

As Bloomberg added moments ago, the nation’s Meteorological Agency issued an emergency warning for high waves for most of Okinawa prefecture, including the capital. Storm intensity is forecast to increase to violent from very strong, move toward Japan’s main islands. Gale, storm surge, heavy rain, high wave and thunderstorm warnings ore advisories are in effect for all of Okinawa. Heavy rain warnings are in effect for portions of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island, and for southwestern portions of Honshu, Japan’s main island

The good news: Neoguri is at not expected to be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in the Philippines last year. The bad news: the damage and devastation will still be substantial, which for a country where GDP just cratered following the March tax hike and which many believe has already entered recession, is just what the Keynesian doctor ordered.

What is worse (or better depending on one's point of view) is that US military assets are right in the path of the hurricane: the JMA  said on Monday evening it also planned to issue an emergency high sea warning for Okinawa island, host to three-quarters of U.S. military facilities in Japan. The commander at Kadena Air Base, one of the largest U.S. military establishments on Okinawa, warned that damaging winds were expected by early Tuesday.

"I can't stress enough how dangerous this typhoon may be when it hits Okinawa," Brigadier General James Hecker wrote on the base's Facebook page on Sunday. "This is not just another typhoon."

"In these regions, there is a chance of the kinds of storms, high seas, storm surges and heavy rains that you've never experienced before," a JMA official told a news conference. "This is an extraordinary situation, where a grave danger is approaching."

Clearly, Japan needs some training in panic-prevention. It certainly will come in handy when the failure of Abenomics finally "trickles down" through to the Nikkei.

The silver lining is that there is no (well, this is Japan, so make that little) chance of a Fukushima repeat: there are no nuclear plants on Okinawa, but there are two on Kyushu, Japan's westernmost main island that lies in the area through which the typhoon is likely to pass, and one on Shikoku island, which borders Kyushu and could also be affected.

All are halted in line with current national policy. A spokeswoman at Kyushu Electric Power Co said there were no specific plans related to this typhoon but the company had plans in place year-round to protect the plants from severe weather.

As for the wealth creation addicts: the Nikkei 225 will keep trading no matter what.


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