POSTED: 6:22 p.m. HST, May 28, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 6:42 p.m. HST, May 28, 2011
Typhoon Songda is weakening and expected to pass to the south of Japan, avoiding the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture.
The eye of the storm was located about 160 miles south-southwest of Ashizurimisaki, part of Japan's Kochi prefecture, and moving northeast at 55 kilometers per hour as of 9:50 a.m., the Japan Meteorological Agency said on its website. Wind speeds may decrease to 83 kilometers per hour by 9 p.m. from 108 kilometers per hour at 9:50 a.m., it said.
Forecasts last week projected the possibility that the storm may pass over the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, which spewed radiation after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems and left three of six reactor buildings with no roofs after explosions.
Japan is regularly buffeted by typhoons and tropical storms during the northwestern Pacific cyclone season. In 2004, eight cyclones passed over or skirted the country’s Tohoku region, where the Fukushima station is located, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The earliest was in May that year. The eyes of two storms passed within 300 kilometers of Tohoku last year, the agency’s data show.
Songda, the name of a branch of the Red River in Vietnam, is the fourth storm to form over northwest Pacific this year. The storm lashed the Philippines as it passed the eastern seaboard, leaving one person dead, according to the country’s disaster council. Songda prompted evacuations of coastal areas and caused flooding that jammed traffic and stranded travelers.
Damage to crops was “very minimal” as most had been harvested before the storm passed, Philippine Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters Friday.