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Japan's Ryukyu Islands brace for flooding rain, gusts over 160 km/h from strengthening Nepartak

Tropical Storm Nepartak is on track to become a powerful typhoon later this week, with the worst of the storm targeting Japan's Ryukyu Islands.

Taiwan, eastern China and South Korea will also be threatened.

Nepartak continues to gain strength after ending the record for longest stretch without a named tropical storm in the northwestern Pacific Ocean on Sunday.

The environment is more than conducive for Nepartak to become a strong typhoon with its strength equal to that of a major hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific basins by Thursday.

Lives and property will be severely threatened as Nepartak tracks across or dangerously close to the Ryukyu Islands of Yaeyama and Miyako on Thursday afternoon and night.

These islands will face flooding rainfall of 125-250 mm (5-10 inches) and destructive winds with gusts of 160-210 kph (100-130 mph), according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Douty.

Seas will become dangerously rough for shipping interests around the islands as Nepartak approaches. The islands will also be subject to coastal flooding, especially near and east of Nepartak's track.

Residents are encouraged to make the necessary precautions to protect lives and property ahead of the future typhoon and heed evacuation orders.

After passing the Ryukyu Islands, Nepartak will track just north of Taiwan and toward eastern China later this week.

Minor wind damage in far northern parts of Taiwan, largely to the north of Taipei and Milan County, is expected, Douty said. Flooding rain will also threaten these areas.

Nepartak threatens to impact Taiwan on Thursday night into Friday. Heavy rain and strong winds will then spread along the far eastern China coast Friday into Saturday.

The worst impacts in eastern China will be from northeastern Fujian province to eastern Zhejiang province, according to Douty.

"Wind gusts could reach typhoon force near the coast, and 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) of rain may lead to minor flooding," he said.

Residents of Taiwan and eastern China, however, should closely monitor the expected track of Nepartak. Any shift farther west than currently forecast could bring more severe and widespread impacts, including to Taipei and Shanghai.

A farther west track could renew the major flood risk in Jiangsu and eastern Anhui provinces, which endured deadly flooding rain late last week. Even in this scenario, Nepartak's rain should remain east of the hardest-hit areas from Hefei to Wuhan.

Recent flooding along China's Yangtze River has killed more than 180 people, according to BBC News. At least 45 people are also missing.

The dead include 23 people who were killed in a mudslide in the province of Guizhou. A wall collapse in Wuhan killed eight others.

Once in the northern East China Sea this weekend, Nepartak is expected to begin weakening and will curve toward the Sea of Japan.

Nepartak will likely be a minimal typhoon or strong tropical storm as it tracks over or in between South Korea and mainland Japan late in the weekend.

"As the system weakens, winds will become a lesser concern and flooding rainfall will be the main concern," Douty said.

Heavy rain may also outrun the center of Nepartak and soak parts of South Korea and/or western Japan on Friday. This rain could make some areas more susceptible to flooding when Nepartak arrives later in the weekend.

While Nepartak ended the tropical cyclone drought in the basin, it is not expected to be followed by a flurry of tropical activity.

"The window for development looks to slam shut by this weekend," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said. "Then, I do not see much opportunity [for further development] until late July."