Typhoon Nanmadol lands to the southwest Japan On Sunday night, authorities urged millions of people to shelter from the strong winds and torrential rain of the powerful storm.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said the storm had officially reached the eyewall – the area just outside the eye – near Kagoshima at 7 PM local time (11:00 AM BST).
It was packing winds up to almost 150 mph, and up to 500mm of rain had fallen in parts of the southwestern Kyushu region in less than 24 hours.
Local officials said several people were injured. In the city of Kushima, in southern Miyazaki prefecture, a woman was slightly injured by shards of glass when wind smashed windows at a gym. National TV broadcaster NHK reported that 15 people were injured, citing its own tally.
At least 20,000 people spent the night in bunkers in Kyushu’s Kagoshima and Miyazaki districts, where the JMA issued a rare “special warning” – a warning only issued when it estimates conditions that occur every few decades.
National broadcaster NHK, which collects information from local authorities, said more than 7 million people were told to move to shelters or take shelter in sturdy buildings to escape the storm.
Evacuation warnings are not enforced, and authorities sometimes have trouble convincing people to move into shelters before extreme weather conditions. Over the weekend, they tried to take home their worries about the weather system.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tweeted after holding a government meeting regarding the storm, “Please stay away from dangerous places and please evacuate if you feel the slightest sign of danger.”
“It will be dangerous to evacuate at night. Please go to a safe place while it’s still light outside.”
The JMA warned that the area could face unprecedented danger from high winds, storm surges and torrential rains, describing the storm as “very dangerous”.
“The areas affected by the storm are seeing a kind of rain that has never been experienced before,” Hiro Kato, head of the Weather Monitoring and Warning Center, told reporters on Sunday.
It is very likely that there will be some types of landslides, especially in areas where landslide warnings are made.
He called for the utmost caution, even in areas where disasters do not usually occur.
On Sunday evening, utilities said nearly 200,000 homes across the region were without electricity. Trains, flights, and ferries were canceled until the storm passed, and even some grocery stores, often open around the clock and considered a lifeline in disasters, closed their doors.
“The southern part of the Kyushu region may see strong winds, high waves and high tides like never before,” the JMA said in a statement on Sunday, urging people to “take the greatest possible caution.”
On the ground, an official from Izumi, Kagoshima, said conditions were deteriorating rapidly on Sunday afternoon.
“The wind has become extremely strong. The rain is also falling hard,” he told AFP. “It’s pure white outside. Visibility is almost zero.”
Weakening slightly as it approaches landfall, the storm is expected to turn northeast and sweep the main island of Japan Wednesday morning.
Japan is currently in typhoon season and faces 20 types of storms a year, with heavy rains that routinely cause landslides or flash floods. In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis struck Japan while hosting the Rugby World Cup, killing more than 100 people.
A year ago, Typhoon Jebi closed the Kansai airport in Osaka, killing 14 people. And in 2018, floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the country’s annual rainy season.
Scientists say the climate crisis is increasing the severity of storms and causing extreme weather conditions such as heatwaves, droughts and flash floods to become more frequent and intense.
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