Jelawat in the Western Pacific is forecast to curve toward the Japan mainland, bringing flooding rain, monstrous seas and damaging winds.
According to World Weather Expert Jason Nicholls, "It has turned northward as forecast and is projected to turn northeastward this weekend with direct, dangerous impacts on Japan."
This image of Super Typhoon Jelawat was taken on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, and appears courtesy of NASA's Earth Observatory. According to the Philippines newspaper Zamboanga Today, outer bands of the large typhoon, known to locals as "Lawin," has caused flooding and forced evacuations in Zambo City.
Jelawat lost its super typhoon status on Friday.
As of Saturday, Jelawat was briskly moving northeastward, moving through the Ryukyu Islands. Maximum sustained winds were near 105 mph, with gusts to 125 mph. Estimated seas near and just northeast of the center of circulation were around 30 feet. The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center has the latest statistics on Jelawat.
While not making a direct hit on Tawain, Jelawat delivered over a foot of rain on some of the mountains in the islands through Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, midday EDT.
Jelawat weakened Friday afternoon and Friday night, but still produced heavy rain and damaging winds the the Ryukyu Islands. At Naha on Okinawa Islands, winds gusted to 136 mph Friday night as the center passed near the island.
Stronger steering-level winds farther north will not only begin to break down the storm as it moves along this weekend, but they will also turn Jelawat toward Japan and cause its forward speed to increase.
Impacts will continue across the Ryukyu Islands through Saturday night, with some gradual improvements across the islands on Sunday.
By the time the system reaches the latitude of mainland Japan early next week, it may be a tropical storm or transitioning to a non-tropical system.
"Despite the projected weakening before hitting mainland Japan, the terrain may squeeze one to two feet of rain in some areas, potentially leading to major flooding," Nicholls added.
Tropical storm conditions are possible in Tokyo Sunday into Monday. If Jelawat were to track northwest of Tokyo, the city could be hit by damaging wind. If the storm were to pass just to the southeast of the city, the metro area could be hammered by flash and urban flooding.
Regardless, much of mainland Japan is heavily populated and there is the potential for damage and loss of life with Jelawat.
According to World Weather Expert, Jim Andrews earlier this week, "The projected path of Jelawat takes the worst weather east of Taiwan, but the island will experience rough seas, locally gusty winds and heavy rain on the windward facing mountainsides."
In addition to the risk to lives and property in the region, travel and shipping disruptions are possible in the proximity of the storm in the Philippine Sea region. Seas will remain rough in the region into early next week.
Ewiniar, a tropical storm as of Saturday morning, was moving away from the small islands east of mainland Japan and also contributing to rough seas in the region.
Jelawat is moving through the Ryukyu Islands in the Western Pacific on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Ewiniar was spinning east of Japan. Image appears from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Ewiniar is not a threat to mainland Japan and is helping to drag dry air southward in the path of Jelawat.
Okinawa was hit by typhoon Sanba during the middle of the month.
Jelawat is the second storm to reach the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the Western Pacific this season. Sanba was the first.
Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller contributed to this story.
As a large storm rolls out of the Plains and Midwest, a swath of snow, ice and travel disruptions will extend into the Northeast for the start of March.
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