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UPDATE: Massive Typhoon Bolaven slams Okinawa, Japan and heads for Koreas

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08/26/2012 10:33 AM
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UPDATE: Massive Typhoon Bolaven slams Okinawa, Japan and heads for Koreas
August 26, 2012 – JAPAN - A massive typhoon began to make landfall Sunday over Okinawa, bringing winds more ferocious than even the typhoon-weary Japanese island has seen in decades. It will likely be the strongest since 1956, said CNN International meteorologist Tom Sater. With a cloud field of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), Typhoon Bolaven is 20 times larger than Okinawa’s length. “It’s been very, very severe,” said storm chaser James Reynolds, on the northwestern coast of the island. Tree branches were flying through the air amid torrential rain, he said. The infrastructure on Okinawa is designed to withstand violent storms. “Everything’s made of solid concrete,” said Reynolds. “Utility poles are so wide you couldn’t even put your arms around them,” Reynolds said. “All the houses are built with concrete. There’s no such thing as a beach house in Okinawa because it would just get destroyed by a typhoon.” Still, the power was out where he was Sunday. On Sunday evening, Bolaven was carrying sustained winds of 213 kilometers (132 miles) per hour, with gusts reaching 259 kilomeers per hour (161 mph) — the highest since Typhoon Naha in 1956. Bolaven was traveling northwest at 15 kilometers per hour (9 mph). The storm is on course to hit China and the Korean peninsula. “It’s roughly the size of France to Poland in land mass,” said Sater. “The typhoon is producing wave heights of 16 meters high, so the possibility is there for a storm surge of 8 to 10 meters high on the coastline. Wind gusts will be strong enough to not only uproot or down trees and power lines, but could flip automobiles. Okinawa is 100 kilometers (62 miles) long. The size of Bolaven’s eye is roughly 30 kilometers (19 miles) in width. This means many residents could experience the eye passing over them; unfortunately, that means putting up with the strongest winds the storm can produce, followed by a calm period with a brief clearing of the skies overhead, then another chaotic period of damaging winds that will be blowing in the opposite direction of the previous winds. Rainfall totals could top 500 mm (20 inches) in 24 hours,” said Sater. -CNN

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