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Fox News Weather Center

Japan on Alert for Strengthening Typhoon Phanfone

Residents of Japan are facing another tropical threat from strengthening Typhoon Phanfone.

The AccuWeather.com Typhoon Center anticipates Phanfone to maintain its northwest track through this weekend before curving to the northeast.

Such a track could cause Phanfone to barrel through Japan's Ryukyu Islands this weekend with mainland Japan as its eventual target early next week.

Phanfone may begin its curve to the northeast prior to reaching the Ryukyu Islands and even bypass mainland Japan to the south. However, concern is mounting for the previously stated scenario to unfold and put Japanese lives and property in harm's way.

As Phanfone heads toward the Ryukyu Islands, it will remain in an environment conducive for strengthening and become a powerful typhoon.

"By Sunday [local time], Phanfone will be producing destructive maximum sustained winds of 195 to 210 kph (120 to 130 mph) with gusts between 225 and 240 kph (140 and 150 mph) if it tracks through the Ryukyu Islands," stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Rob Richards.

There could even be a narrow zone that faces even stronger winds since it is possible for Phanfone to approach or reach super typhoon status (the equivalent of a strong Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific basins).

In addition to stirring up extremely dangerous seas, Richards anticipates Phanfone to drop a general 75 to 250 mm (3 to 10 inches) of rain with as much as 300 mm (a foot) along its path through the Ryukyu Islands.

"As early as Sunday night or Monday, the brunt of Phanfone may be bearing down on mainland Japan," continued Richards.

The current projected path of Phanfone puts southwestern Japan, including the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku, at greatest risk for torrential rain, destructive winds and an inundating storm surge. While escaping the worst of the storm, Tokyo would still experience some rain and wind in this scenario.

A large portion of the country would actually be at risk for flooding even if Phanfone slams into southwestern Japan. Moisture outrunning Phanfone may contribute to heavy rain across mainland Japan well ahead of the typhoon.

Some sections of Japan could face several days of heavy rain later in the weekend and early next week, leading to major flooding and mudslides.

Conditions in terms of destructive wind and storm surge would be less extreme if Phanfone turns more quickly to the northeast and its center bypasses mainland Japan, but AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Eric Leister warns that residents should not let their guard down.

"Even if Phanfone passes just east of Japan, interaction with [a dip in the jet stream] to the north will pull heavy rainfall into eastern Japan, heightening the threat for widespread flooding and mudslides."

All residents of the Ryukyu Islands and mainland Japan are urged to closely monitor the progress of Phanfone as more precise details in regards to its track and impacts are given by AccuWeather.com. All evacuation orders should be heeded.