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Strong typhoon Lionrock heads for Japan's northeast
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 30, 2016

Hurricane Madeline threatens Hawaii
Miami (AFP) Aug 30, 2016 - Hurricane Madeline is expected to pass near Hawaii midweek, US weather forecasters said Monday, threatening dangerous flooding and disruptions to a planned visit by President Barack Obama and other dignitaries.

Currently a Category Three hurricane, Madeline is expected to pass "dangerously close" to Hawaii's Big Island on Wednesday, carrying heavy rain and strong winds, the US National Weather Service said.

The hurricane was some 575 miles (925 kilometers) east of Hilo, Hawaii at 0300 GMT Tuesday.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, and was moving toward west-northwest at around 10 miles per hour.

Madeline was expected to begin turning gradually to the west, then move west-southwest Tuesday night into Wednesday.

It is expected to dump five to 10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 centimeters) of rain on Hawaii, with some areas receiving up to 15 inches.

"This rainfall may lead to dangerous flash floods and mudslides," the NWS Central Pacific Hurricane Center said.

Madeline's current path in the central Pacific could also coincide with Obama's planned visit to Hawaii to kick off the World Conservation Congress, a major meeting of thousands of delegates, including heads of state, scientists and policy makers.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature stages the World Conservation Congress every four years at a different location around the globe.

It is set to take place from Thursday to next Saturday.

Obama is scheduled to address the gathering on its opening day.

He is also expected to travel to Midway Atoll, inside a newly named protected area, where the president burnished his environmental bona fides last week by establishing the world's largest marine reserve, home to thousands of rare sea creatures in the northwestern Hawaiian islands.

Meanwhile, another hurricane in the Atlantic, Gaston, was downgraded to a Category Two storm, US weather trackers said.

A Category Three hurricane earlier on Monday, Gaston was the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season.

The storm was packing top sustained winds of 105 miles per hour as of 0300 GMT Tuesday, around 600 miles east of Bermuda, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

It was moving to the northeast at six miles per hour.

The storm was not an immediate threat to land, and was expected to remain near its current strength, picking up speed as it travels toward the northeast over the next couple of days, forecasters said.

A strong typhoon was on course Tuesday for a direct hit on northeastern Japan, with authorities warning of heavy rain and high waves along the Pacific coast.

Typhoon Lionrock was 110 kilometres (68 miles) east of the city of Iwaki, as of 2 pm (0500 GMT), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Iwaki lies some 200 kilometres northeast of Tokyo.

Packing wind gusts up to 180 kilometres per hour, the storm was moving north-northwest at 35 kilometres per hour and expected to make landfall in the northeast later in the day.

That would make it the first typhoon to directly land in the region from the Pacific Ocean since the country's present weather observation system was introduced in 1951, they said.

Typhoons usually approach Japan from the south and southwest before moving northward across the archipelago.

Authorities have issued warnings for torrential rain, high waves, strong winds and flooding for the northeastern region, which remains vulnerable after destruction brought about by a March 2011 tsunami generated by a massive magnitude 9.0 offshore earthquake.

It is also expected to hit the region at high tide, deepening concerns for flooding along the coast from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

Local authorities were using heavy machinery to pile huge sandbags along the coast in a bid to hold back raging waves, as they issued evacuation advisories and opened up some public buildings for use as shelters.

Schools were closed across the affected area, broadcasters reported.

At the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, workers were trying to secure construction cranes and equipment ahead of expected violent winds, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said. Some sensitive discommissioning work has been suspended, they added.

Authorities also warned of landslides and high water due to expected heavy rain of up to eight centimetres per hour.

The typhoon has already affected manufacturing and travel, with Toyota suspending production at two of its plants in the region, the company said.

Also, some 110 domestic flights have been cancelled, public broadcaster NHK said.

Some Shinkansen super fast bullet trains have also been suspended in the northern part of the country.

Lionrock, which formed more than 10 days ago, has become the longest-lasting typhoon of those that have developed north of the 30th parallel north, breaking a 46-year-old record, according to the private Weathernews agency.

The previous record-holding typhoon in that category was in 1970, which survived for nine days and six hours, Weathernews said on its website.

Lionrock is expected to cut across Japan's main island of Honshu and head out to sea towards Russia and China, according to the weather agency.

The typhoon comes on the heels of two others that hit Japan in the past nine days, resulting in two deaths, the cancellation of hundreds of domestic flights and disruptions to train services.

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Previous Report
Hurricane Madeline threatens Hawaii
Miami (AFP) Aug 30, 2016
Hurricane Madeline is expected to pass near Hawaii midweek, US weather forecasters said Monday, threatening dangerous flooding and disruptions to a planned visit by President Barack Obama and other dignitaries. Currently a Category Three hurricane, Madeline is expected to pass "dangerously close" to Hawaii's Big Island on Wednesday, carrying heavy rain and strong winds, the US National Weath ... read more

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