Highly effective storm makes landfall in Japan as earthquake strikes

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Earthquake strikes Tokyo as typhoon hits

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Powerful typhoon makes landfall in Japan as earthquake strikes

About typhoon
A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone that develops between 180° and 100°E in the Northern Hemisphere. This region is referred to as the Northwestern Pacific Basin, and is the most active tropical cyclone basin on Earth, accounting for almost one-third of the world’s annual tropical cyclones. For organizational purposes, the northern Pacific Ocean is divided into three regions: the eastern (North America to 140°W), central (140°W to 180°), and western (180° to 100°E). The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) for tropical cyclone forecasts is in Japan, with other tropical cyclone warning centers for the northwest Pacific in Hawaii (the Joint Typhoon Warning Center), the Philippines and Hong Kong. While the RSMC names each system, the main name list itself is coordinated among 18 countries that have territories threatened by typhoons each year.Within the northwestern Pacific, there are no official typhoon seasons as tropical cyclones form throughout the year. Like any tropical cyclone, there are a few main requirements for typhoon formation and development: (1) sufficiently warm sea surface temperatures, (2) atmospheric instability, (3) high humidity in the lower to middle levels of the troposphere, (4) enough Coriolis effect to develop a low pressure center, (5) a pre-existing low level focus or disturbance, and (6) a low vertical wind shear. While the majority of storms form between June and November, a few storms do occur between December and May (although tropical cyclone formation is at a minimum during that time). On average, the northwestern Pacific features the most numerous and intense tropical cyclones globally. Like other basins, they are steered by the subtropical ridge towards the west or northwest, with some systems recurving near and east of Japan. The Philippines receive the brunt of the landfalls, with China and Japan being impacted slightly less. Some of the deadliest typhoons in history have struck China. Southern China has the longest record of typhoon impacts for the region, with a thousand-year sample via documents within their archives. Taiwan has received the wettest known typhoon on record for the northwest Pacific tropical cyclone basins.

A heavy downpour and strong winds pounded Tokyo and surrounding areas on Saturday as a powerful typhoon forecast to be Japan’s worst in six decades made landfall southwest of the city. Shortly before the storm made landfall an earthquake shook the area.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 5.3 quake was centered in the ocean off the coast of Chiba, near Tokyo. 

Powerful typhoon makes landfall in Japan as earthquake strikes

At least one person is confirmed dead. A man died after a tornado flipped over his car.

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Flooding was reported Saturday south of Tokyo. Rivers have swelled and boats have flipped. Mudslide warnings have also been issued.

“Be ready for rainfall of the kind that you have never experienced,” said meteorological agency official Yasushi Kajihara, adding that areas usually safe from disasters may prove vulnerable.

“Take all measures necessary to save your life,” he said.

Kajihara said people who live near rivers should take shelter on the second floor or higher of any sturdy building if an officially designated evacuation center wasn’t easily accessible. He also expressed fears that disaster may have already struck in some areas.

Hagibis, which means “speed” in Filipino, was advancing north-northwestward with maximum sustained winds of 144 kilometers (90 miles) per hour on Saturday evening, according to the meteorological agency. It was traveling toward Tokyo and northern Japan at a speed of 35 kph (22 mph).

The storm brought heavy rainfall in wide areas of Japan all day ahead of its landfall, including in Shizuoka and Mie prefectures, southwest of Tokyo, as well as Chiba to the north, which saw power outages and damaged homes in a typhoon last month.

Yusuke Ikegaya, a Shizuoka resident who evacuated ahead of the storm, said he was surprised that the nearby river was about to overflow in the morning, hours before the typhoon made landfall.

“In the 28 years of my life, this is the first time I’ve had to evacuate even before a typhoon has landed,” he said. 

Japan Asia Typhoon
A couple walks in heavy rain Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Fujisawa, west of Tokyo.

Jae C. Hong/AP

Rugby World Cup matches, concerts and other events in the area were canceled, while flights were grounded and train services halted. Authorities acted quickly, with warnings issued earlier in the week, including urging people to stay indoors.

Some 17,000 police and military troops were called up, standing ready for rescue operations.

Residents taped up their apartment windows to prevent them from shattering. TV talks shows showed footage of household items like a slipper bashing through glass when hurled by winds.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded most domestic and international flights at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya airports. Central Japan Railway Co. canceled bullet-train service between Tokyo and Osaka except for several early Saturday trains connecting Nagoya and Osaka. Tokyo Disneyland was closed, while Ginza department stores and smaller shops throughout Tokyo were shuttered. 

Evacuation advisories were issued for risk areas, including Shimoda city, west of Tokyo. Dozens of evacuation centers were set up in coastal towns, and people rested on gymnasium floors, saying they hoped their homes were still there after the storm passed.   

A typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958 left more than 1,200 people dead and half a million houses flooded.