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Air Quality Alert

Typhoon Sanba Threatening Japan

By By Meghan Evans, meteorologist
September 17, 2012, 4:36:23 PM EDT

Typhoon Sanba will continue to impact Okinawa Saturday, after which it will set its sights on Japan and South Korea.

As of Saturday evening, local time, Typhoon Sanba had sustained winds of 125 mph, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, according to The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

Sanba was a super typhoon Friday with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.

The Japan Meteorological Agency earlier predicted Sanba's central pressure to fall to 26.58 inches (900 mb), which would allow Sanba's strength to rank in between Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina from the Atlantic. Only one typhoon in the western Pacific, Super Typhoon Megi, had a lower pressure in the past 10 years.

Sanba's movement to the north and northwest is expected to continue for the next 12 to 24 hours, after which the storm should turn to the northeast.

The eye of Sanba will cross over the Island of Okinawa, Japan later Saturday night, local time. While the island is well-prepared for typhoons, damge, power outages, and flooding can still be expected.

While Sanba is likely to continue a slow weakening trend, it still brings great danger to lives and property.

"It will be a life-threatening situation for the Ryukyu Islands of Japan with winds in excess of 100 mph. The worst case scenario for Okinawa is winds of 120-140 mph," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Eric Wanenchak explained.

Okinawa endured a hard hit from Typhoon Bolaven in August and a previous blow from Haikui.

Even well ahead of Sanba, moisture from the typhoon will meet with a stalled front draped across South Korea. Several inches of rain may deluge southeastern areas before the typhoon passes east of Jeju Island in South Korea on Monday morning, local time, and crosses the southern mainland of the Korean Peninsula by Monday night, local time.

Rainfall of 1-2 feet is not out of the question, especially in mountainous terrain of South Korea.

"The worst case scenario [for South Korea] is a widespread flooding disaster," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

Rainfall since July has been well above normal across portions of South Korea. Seoul, the capital and largest city of South Korea, has received nearly 40 inches (1 meter) of rain since July.

With a significant rain falling before Sanba even approaches the Korean Peninsula with its high winds, trees and other structures may be weakened and more susceptible to wind damage.

Keep checking back for the latest with

Content contributed by AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews and Meteorologists Bill Deger and Evan Duffey.

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