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    Powerful Typhoon Ma-On Targeting Japan

    July 18, 2011; 7:18 AM ET
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    Typhoon Ma-On spins south of Japan Monday afternoon, local time. (NOAA)

    Typhoon Ma-On, nearly packing the strength of a Category 2 hurricane, continues to threaten Japan.

    Landfall in southern Japan is a distinct possibility as early as Tuesday local time and recent data continues to indicate that dangerous conditions are expected for region.

    Maximum winds in Ma-On are at 95 mph Monday afternoon, local time. Some strengthening is possible over the next few days as it nears Japan.

    Although not expected to be in the direct path, U.S. military bases in Okinawa will likely have strong winds and heavy rainfall this weekend from the outer bands of Ma-On.

    The storm will begin to turn toward the northeast through Tuesday. The earlier the turn to the north occurs, the better chance Ma-On will miss a direct landfall on southern Japan.

    However, the most likely track at this time takes Ma-On into the Kyushu or Shikoku islands in southern Japan early this week. As mentioned above, recent data shows that this re-curve will occur slower and that is why we think the threat to Japan is increasing.

    Widespread adverse impacts from rain, wind and heavy seas would result from a direct hit on the southern mainland. Heavy rain, high winds and rough seas could also impact the site of the tsunami and nuclear disaster north of Tokyo.

    Storms of the kind that Ma-On is likely to become can unload over a foot of rainfall, with flooding and mudslides, upon reaching Japan.

    Greater Tokyo is unlikely to feel the worst of the storm, no matter its ultimate track. Still, rainfall will arrive by Tuesday with the worst of the storm likely from Wednesday into early Thursday. However, there is enough uncertainty in the track of Ma-On that we cannot say that a direct hit is not possible.

    Heavy rainfall is expected in the tsunami-ravaged areas north of Tokyo. Late in May, Typhoon Songda brought 4-8 inches of rain to this area, triggering flooding that killed more than 10 people. Typhoon Songda, also brought wind gusts of 125 mph to Okinawa.

    AccuWeather.com Meteorologists Bill Deger and Eric Leister contributed to the content of this story.

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