TOKYO (AP) — A powerful typhoon packing winds up to 215 kilometers (134 miles) per hour was lumbering toward Okinawa on Saturday and was projected to be the strongest typhoon to hit the southern Japanese island in several years.
Typhoon Bolaven, the 15th typhoon of the season, was expected to reach Okinawa on Sunday, island weather officials said.
It comes on the heels of Typhoon Tembin, which on Friday crossed over southern Taiwan and caused flooding in some areas, but largely spared the island's heavily populated areas. Floodwaters from Tembin reached 3 meters (9 feet) high in one town, where armored vehicles rescued several dozen people from their flooded homes. It returned to sea by late Friday morning.
Typhoon Bolaven was approaching Minami-Daito Island, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Okinawa, on Saturday and moving north-northwest at 15 kph (9 mph). Maximum winds near the eye were projected at 180 kph (112 mph). On Friday, the storm had winds of 162 kph (101 mph), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The weather Saturday morning in Naha, the capital of Okinawa prefecture, was still sunny with mild winds, officials said.
But the Japanese Meteorological Agency issued advisories for gale-force winds in Okinawa and high waves in the waters around the island, where more than half the 50,000 U.S. troops based in Japan are stationed.
One of the biggest bases, Kadena Air Base, banned water-based activities in the rough seas as part of its preparations for the typhoon.
Weather forecasters on public broadcaster NHK said the slow-moving storm could dump up to 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) of rain on Okinawa.
Bolaven had sustained winds of 162 kph (101 mph) and gusts of up to 215 kph (134 mph), the agency said.