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Vongfong Departs Japan Following Damaging Wind and Rain

By By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
October 16, 2014, 4:19:30 AM EDT

Only a week after Japan was slammed by Typhoon Phanfone, Vongfong brought another round of torrential rainfall and locally damaging winds.

Vongfong, meaning "the wasp" in Cantonese, turned northeastward and moved across Kyushu and Shikoku on Monday. Landfall occurred on Kyushu near Kagoshima around 9:15 a.m. on Monday, local time, as the storm began to accelerate northeastward.

This northeastward track continued on Monday night and Tuesday as the cyclone brought torrential rain and locally damaging winds to Honshu and parts of Hokkaido.

Vongfong has since moved back into the Western Pacific Ocean and continues to weaken with no further impacts to land expected.

Prior to reaching Mainland Japan, Vongfong blasted through the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan over the weekend. Wind speeds peaked at 143 kph (89 mph) at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Nearby, about 500 mm (20 inches) fell at Kunigami on Saturday.

Despite weakening while crossing Japan, wind gusts over 92 kph (57 mph) were reported in Tokyo along with torrential downpours that produced 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) of rainfall.

Widespread rainfall of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) was reported across Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu and eastern Hokkaido through Tuesday evening, local time. In one of the hardest hit areas, nearly 300 mm (12 inches) of rain fell in only 12 hours in Sumoto, Japan, on Monday.

Vongfong was classified as a super typhoon during the middle of last week as it moved through an area of low wind shear and very warm ocean temperatures but has since lost that title. The tropical system had reached the equivalent strength of a Category 5 hurricane, featuring wind speeds greater than 257 kph (160 mph).

"Vongfong became the strongest tropical cyclone we've had all year anywhere on Earth," Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

The strength of Vongfong earlier surpassed that of Super Typhoon Genevieve which, at its most powerful, had sustained winds of 257 kph (160 mph) in the West Pacific.

How are Cyclones Named in the Western Pacific
Deadly Phanfone Departs Japan
Japan Interactive Radar

The Associated Press reported that at least 75 people have been injured and one killed in Japan as the cyclone brought torrential rain and locally damaging winds to the region.

As the storm moved across Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) took precautions to prevent problems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

To prepare for the storm, TEPCO increased water transfer capacity and water storage capacity to prevent overflow of the accumulated water in the dikes by increasing the dikes' height and, if necessary, transferring the rain water between the dikes or to different storage tanks to level the rain water, the utility said on its Facebook page. Meteorologists Meghan Mussoline, Courtney Spamer and Jordan Root and Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger contributed content to this story.

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