Japan was bracing for destructive winds and huge waves as a powerful super typhoon described as a "once in decades storm" churned Monday toward the southern islands of Okinawa after sparing the Philippines. Typhoon Neoguri was already gusting at more than 150 mph and may pick up still more power as it moves north, growing into an "extremely intense" storm by Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It was expected to rake the southern Okinawa island chain with heavy rain and powerful winds before making landfall on Kyushu, Japan's westernmost main island.
The storm was not expected to be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in the Philippines last year. The JMA said Monday night that it planned to issue an emergency high sea warning for Okinawa island, host to three-quarters of U.S. military facilities in Japan. The commander at Kadena Air Base, one of the largest U.S. military establishments on Okinawa, earlier warned that damaging winds were expected by early Tuesday. "I can't stress enough how dangerous this typhoon may be when it hits Okinawa," Brigadier General James Hecker wrote on the base's Facebook page on Sunday. "This is not just another typhoon."