Typhoon Guchol Lashes Japan With Rain on Path to Osaka

Typhoon Guchol lashed southwestern Japan with strong winds and heavy rain as it moved toward the center of the country, forcing airlines and train operators to cancel services amid warnings of flooding and landslides.

Guchol was about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west-southwest of Shionomisaki, Wakayama prefecture at 5:40 p.m. local time, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Sustained winds were 130 kilometers per hour (81 miles per hour), making it a Category 1 storm, the weakest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The storm is moving at 65 kilometers per hour and is forecast to pass over the western Kansai region that includes Osaka and Kyoto this evening before weakening into a tropical storm as it crosses Japan’s main island of Honshu. The latest track shows the storm will pass over the capital of Tokyo.

Japan Airlines Co. canceled 116 domestic flights and three international flights due to the typhoon as of 2 p.m., the carrier said on its website. All Nippon Airways Co. said it canceled 165 domestic flights affecting about 12,200 people, while Skymark Airlines Inc., Japan’s biggest discount carrier, said it canceled flights to and from Okinawa.

West Japan Railway Co., known as JR West, said some train services are canceled, including on lines from Okayama, Kyoto and Osaka. Shinkansen, or bullet train, services linking Osaka and Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu were unaffected as of 2:50 p.m. local time, JR West said on its website.

Landslides, Flooding

Japan issued warnings for landslides in areas including Shikoku, where as much as 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rain may fall. High waves, heavy rain and strong winds are expected along the south coast of Honshu as far east as Nagoya and the Izu peninsula, southwest of Tokyo. As much as 8 centimeters of rain per hour are falling in parts of the country as Guchol approaches, the meteorological agency said.

An evacuation advisory was issued for more than 10,000 residents in the northeastern city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, public broadcaster NHK said. It was issued hours ahead of the expected approach of the typhoon to avoid damage from heavy rains and high tides, NHK said.

Cosmo Oil Co. halted barge shipments at its Sakaide refinery on Shikoku because of the typhoon, spokesman Katsuhisa Maeda said by telephone. JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. halted barge shipments at its Mizushima refinery, also in western Japan, a company official said today by telephone from Tokyo.

Alert Lowered

The U.S. military’s Kadena Air Base on Okinawa was placed under Typhoon Condition-1 alert yesterday, meaning winds of 93 kilometers per hour or greater were expected within 12 hours, according to the base’s website. The alert was lowered to condition-4 as the storm moved away from the island.

Nansei Sekiyu K.K., Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s Japanese unit, halted berthing operations at its Nishihara refinery on Okinawa as typhoon Guchol approached.

Japan is regularly hit by typhoons during the summer months. Typhoon Talas dumped as much as 1.8 meters of rain in central Japan last year, while Typhoon Tokage left 95 people dead in 2004.

Guchol is the name for a spice in Micronesia, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which lists names assigned to storms in the northwest Pacific.

A tropical depression also formed southwest of Hong Kong, the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said on its website. It is expected to move northeast over Taiwan in the next few days and isn’t forecast to develop into a typhoon.

(Corrects name of town to Shionomisaki in second paragraph. This story was first published on June 19.)
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