Typhoon Trami has weakened considerably since its massive swirling eye was captured from space earlier this week, but meterologists warn it could strengthen to the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane before potentially hitting Japan's main islands this weekend.
Trami, currently a category 2 storm, is forecast to pass over Japan's southern Ryukyu Islands Friday night, bringing heavy rain and wind, but is expected to strengthen over the next 24 to 48 hours to regain category 3 status.
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The Ryuku Island chain stretches north of Taiwan to the Japanese island of Kyushu, and includes Okinawa, the largest island in the chain, with a population of 1.4 million people, including around 25,000 US troops and their families.
The center of the storm is expected to pass west of the Ryukus but track close to them, placing the strongest portion of the storm over the islands Friday night local time (Friday morning ET), with heavy rainfall lasting through the day on Saturday.
Damage is expected to be minimal, as the Ryukyus are generally well-prepared against typhoons.
Landfall in mainland Japan is expected early Sunday, making Trami the fifth typhoon to hit the country's main islands since July.
The storm is still expected to be the equivalent of a strong category 2 or a weak 3 at that time, with winds around 175 to 185 kph (109 to 115 mph). If it misses direct landfall in Kyushu it will hit the main island of Honshu six to 12 hours later.
Heavy rainfall will occur Saturday ahead of the storm, and Sunday with the landfall, according to CNN's Weather Center. Rainfall totals of 150 to 300 mm (6 to 12 inches) will be widespread, localized amounts of over 500 mm (19.6 inches) are expected.
Earlier in the typhoon season Typhoon Jebi, the strongest storm to hit Japan's mainland in 25 years, smashed through the west of the country, killing ten people and causing widespread damage through high winds and storm surges.
Trami's expected arrival comes at the end of a summer of disasters that have hit the country, after multiple deaths caused by Jebi, flooding, and heatwaves this summer.