A powerful typhoon disrupted air traffic and oil shipments in Japan on Thursday as it churned northward over the Pacific Ocean, heading toward the nation's capital. The storm, with winds up to 144 kilometers per hour (89 mph), was expected to land in the Tokyo area Thursday evening, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. Local media reported no injuries, but heavy rain and winds halted oil deliveries from refineries in Yokkaichi in Chiba prefecture (state), and grounded 14 flights of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
Oil shipments were expected to resume from the refinery by Friday with little impact on gasoline supplies, while more flight cancelations were expected as the typhoon approaches. National television network NHK showed fishing boats along Japan's eastern coast returning to port Thursday to brace for the storm's landfall. Japan was struck by a record 10 typhoons and tropical storms last year, leaving nearly 220 people dead or missing, the largest casualty toll since 1983. Typhoon Tokage, which hit in October, was Japan's deadliest storm in more than a decade, killing 83 people. Scientists blamed last year's intense storm season partially on warmer-than-average ocean temperatures. A tropical storm that landed southeast of Tokyo last month injured four people and forced hundreds to evacuate, AP reports.