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Typhoon whips Okinawa

By By Michael Pearson and Jethro Mullen CNN
Published On: Jul 07 2014 10:26:23 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 08 2014 09:10:26 PM CDT
Typhoon Neoguri waves

Earth Uncut Productions

HONG KONG (CNN) -

Denise Fettig-Loftesnes lives just 50 feet from the East China Sea on the Japanese island of Okinawa -- prime territory to witness the swirling winds of Typhoon Neoguri as they lashed the island Tuesday.

"The wind sounds like a freight train is coming towards you," the CNN iReporter said. "It is hard to sometimes hear people in the same room with you because the wind is so loud."

Her building -- she lives on the sixth floor -- is swaying with the wind, so she's not going outside to check for damage.

"I did notice that my car has moved ahead about one foot and a little to the side," she said.

The storm had lost strength early Tuesday, going from the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 3, said CNN International meteorologist Tom Sater.

But it still had knocked out power to at least 106,100 electric customers, according to Okinawa Electric Power Company. About 600,000 households were under evacuation advisories, but fewer than 1,000 had left, authorities said.

Officials attributed 10 injuries to the storm, only one of them serious.

Although the storm is expected to only sideswipe Okinawa, passing about 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the west, the island's main airport, schools and many businesses were closed.

Authorities at Kadena Air Base, the largest U.S. military installation in the Asia-Pacific region, told the thousands of service members and their families at the facility that all outside activity was forbidden Tuesday morning.

Okinawa, the site of multiple U.S. military facilities, regularly finds itself in the path of big typhoons. Buildings on the island are designed to withstand the powerful winds that come roaring in off the ocean.

Each summer and autumn, heavy storms roll in from the Western Pacific, often causing damage in East Asian countries such as the Philippines, China and Japan.

Fears for Kyushu

The storm weakened slightly overnight, with maximum sustained winds of 148 kph (92 mph) and gusts of up to 212 kph (132 mph), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

And while the storm is expected to continue to weaken, authorities are concerned about the potential impact of rain when it reaches Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's main islands, sometime Thursday morning (Wednesday night ET).

"This is not about wind, it's all about rainfall," Sater said, noting that parts of Kyushu have already experienced heavy rains in recent days. The rivers are swollen and the ground is saturated, he said.

Authorities have already relocated about 84,000 people from areas of Kyushu vulnerable to flooding.

Seen from space

Astronaut Reid Wiseman on the International Space Station tweeted a photo over the weekend of the typhoon viewed from above, showing vast cloud bands spiraling out from its center.

"#Typhoon Neoguri nearing Japan. Takes up our entire view. Wow," he wrote.

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