Monster Typhoon hits Japan

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Waves hit the shore near the town of Aki in Kochi prefecture on September 19.

Waves hit the shore near the town of Aki in Kochi prefecture on September 19.
Photo: KYDPL KYODO (PA)

At least two people have died after a powerful typhoon hit Japan this week, blanketing parts of the country with record amounts of rain and putting more than 9 million people under evacuation orders.

Typhoon Nanmadol, one of the most powerful thunderstorms Japan has never seen, done land Sunday evening with winds of up to 110 miles per hour (177 kilometers per hour) near the city of Kagoshima on the southwestern island of Kyushu. The storm moved into Honshu, Japan’s largest and most populous island, on Monday.

historic storm

Flooded houses in Kunitomi in Miyazaki prefecture on September 19.

Flooded houses in Kunitomi in Miyazaki prefecture on September 19.
Photo: Kyodo (PA)

When Nanmandol made landfall on Sunday, it recorded a central pressure of 935 millibars, making it the fourth lowest pressure storm on record to make landfall in Japan, Yale Climate Connections Eye on the Storm blog reported. (Lower pressure leads to higher wind speeds, and therefore a stronger storm.)

record rain

Waves hit the shore at Aki in Kochi prefecture on September 19.

Waves hit the shore at Aki in Kochi prefecture on September 19.
Photo: KYDPL KYODO (PA)

Officials from Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu said some places received more rain in 24 hours than they usually see in the whole of September, while river levels remained dangerously high. NHK, the Japanese public broadcaster, reported that between last Thursday and Monday, some 39 inches (1 meter) of rain fell on Misato in Miyazaki Prefecture, about double the amount that usually falls for the whole month. The Yale Climate Connections Blog reported that at least five weather stations recorded single-day rainfall levels of nearly 20 inches (50 centimeters) on Sunday; the highest of these was 27.34 inches (694.5 millimeters) at Mikado.

Two deaths reported

Japanese forces search for the man who went missing in a mudslide in Mimata on September 19.

Japanese forces search for the man who went missing in a mudslide in Mimata on September 19.
Photo: Kyodo (PA)

One of the confirmed deaths, CNN reported, was a man in his 60s who was found trapped in a car submerged by floodwaters in the town of Miyakonojō. According to the Japan Times, another man was found dead in Miyazaki prefecture after a landslide destroyed his mountainside home. Reuters reported that at least 115 people were also injured in the storm, while an 82-year-old man who fell into the water is still missing.

“The ground is like clay”

People clean up farmland that was flooded by the storm.

People clean up farmland that was flooded by the storm.
Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun (PA)

“There have been several mudslides around here. The ground is like clay so it crumbles easily,” a 78-year-old man who lives in the town of Mimata Told the Japan Times.

The storm calmed down on Tuesday

A flooded road in Saito in Miyazaki prefecture on September 19.

A flooded road in Saito in Miyazaki prefecture on September 19.
Photo: KYDPL KYODO (PA)

At the height of the storm on Monday, some 300,000 people were without power. Evacuation orders were in place for nearly 10 million people in the region; these commands are not mandatory. Storm weakened Tuesday as he returned to The pacific Oocean, although winds were still recorded at over 78 miles per hour (126 kilometers per hour). Officials say that despite the damage, the country avoided what could have been the worst-case scenario with such a powerful storm.

More storms like this to come

Waves crash off the city of Miyazaki on Sunday, September 18 as Typhoon Nanmadol approaches Japan.

Waves crash off the city of Miyazaki on Sunday, September 18 as Typhoon Nanmadol approaches Japan.
Photo: Kyodo (PA)

Typhoons like Nanmadol intensify on warming ocean waters, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year found that severe storms have become 30% more frequent around the world with the warming of more than 1 degree Celsius that we have already experienced. Warmer air can also hold more moisture, and the IPCC reported last year that these storms hold an average of about 7% more water than before. As the seas rise, damage from large storms like Nanmadol is also likely to increase.

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