Southwest Japan faces gusty winds and high waves as storm heads toward Okinawa

Meteorological officials are warning of gusty winds and high waves in southwestern Japan as a tropical storm is forecast to approach Okinawa Prefecture through Friday.

The Meteorological Agency says that as of 5 p.m. Thursday, severe tropical storm Mawar was located about 190 kilometers southwest of the city of Naha in Okinawa. It was moving north-northeast at 15 kilometers per hour.

The storm has a central atmospheric pressure of 975 hectopascals, with winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour near its center and gusts of up to 126 kilometers per hour.

Instantaneous maximum wind speeds of about 110 km/h were recorded on Tokashiki Island, 107 km/h in the city of Nanjo and 105 km/h in Naha on Thursday afternoon.

The storm has also brought rough seas to Okinawa.

Okinawan officials told NHK that as of 6 p.m., a total of six elderly people had been slightly injured due to strong winds. They included an 86-year-old man who fell and suffered a head injury, and an 80-year-old woman who injured her foot.

Mawar is expected to gradually shift course to the east and move closer to the main island of Okinawa through Friday.

The maximum instantaneous wind speed is expected to reach 126 kilometers per hour in the Okinawa and Amami regions.

Rough seas are also expected in these regions, with waves of up to 30 feet through Friday.

The rain will also intensify as the storm approaches. In the 24 hours to noon Friday, up to 150mm of rain could fall in parts of the Okinawa and Amami regions.

Authorities warn that there is a risk of flooding from high waves and storm surge in low-lying areas of the Okinawa region. Residents are also advised to remain vigilant for landslides and rising rivers.

Areas that are not close to the storm can also have torrential downpours.

Rain clouds have developed over parts of Kyushu and Shikoku as moist air flows from the storm toward a stationary seasonal rain front.

The city of Nakatsu in Oita Prefecture had 45 millimeters of rain in the one-hour period up to 3 p.m.

The showers are expected to intensify over wide areas from western Japan to eastern Japan as the front becomes more active through Saturday. Some areas may have torrential rain accompanied by thunder on Friday.

Authorities are warning that linear bands of rain clouds could develop over the Chugoku and Shikoku region on Friday, dumping heavy rain and wreaking havoc on these areas.