TOKYO (AP) — One of the biggest and strongest typhoons to hit during Japan's summer months churned past Okinawa toward the country's main islands on Wednesday, weakening slightly but dumping torrential rains in its wake.
Forecasts for unusually heavy rains prompted a fresh emergency warning, as workers scrambled to clear drains and roads to minimize damage in Okinawa from the typhoon, which left 20 people injured, one seriously.
The Japan Meteorological Agency was forecasting that parts of Shikoku, in western Japan, could receive the equivalent of three months of the normal amount of rainfall in just two days as the storm passes, if it remains on its current trajectory.
The slow-moving storm was expected to reach Kyushu, the next main island in its path, sometime Thursday.
Typhoon Neoguri was packing sustained winds of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour and gusts up to 185 kph (114 mph) Wednesday morning, far lower than the winds of up to 250 kph (155 mph) reported at its peak, the Meteorological Agency said.
Though it was weakening, forecasters said the storm's wide area and slow movement could add to the potential damage. Japan is relatively well prepared for typhoons, but heavy downpours could cause landslides and flooding if the typhoon moves across the Japanese archipelago as expected on Thursday or Friday.
"Please refrain from nonessential activities and from approaching hazardous areas," said Meteorological Agency official Satoshi Ebihara. "Please show extreme caution."
More than half of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan are based in Okinawa, the location of several bases, including Kadena, the biggest U.S. air base in Asia. An advisory on its website said all nonessential outdoor activity was prohibited due to the storm.
Television footage showed a building shattered, damaged storefronts and trees toppled by ferocious winds in the Okinawan capital of Naha.
Neoguri is a Korean word meaning "raccoon dog," a knee-high animal that looks like a cross between a dog and a raccoon but is a separate species common in East Asia.