The first supertyphoon of 2014 is sweeping across Japan, bringing violent waves and devastating 150 mph winds. Areas have been evacuated and airports closed as the storm landed on the southern islands of Okinawa. The storm is expected to continue across Japan, gaining strength over the next few hours before slowing as it continues over the next week, and some worry that the once-in-a-decade typhoon could leave major damage in its wake or even threaten several of the nation’s already-troubled nuclear power plants.
The storm, called Neoguri, has been rated as a category 5 typhoon, prompting the first ever high-level emergency typhoon warning in Japan. The supertyphoon could be the biggest to hit Okinawa since records began in 1945 and, when the storm hits mainland Japan on Wednesday, it is expected that winds will still be raging at a sustained 125 mph.
Japan’s nuclear power plants are closed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which is good news, though even closed nuclear power plants still require cooling. Still, officials say that the risks are relatively low for a meltdown. The real risk for most of Japan will be landslides, heavy rains and power loss across the country. Already, at least 22,000 homes are without power in Okinawa and 40 foot waves were reported. Until the storm passes later this week, residents are urged to stay indoors and local governments are expected to take maximum precautions.
Images via NASA