Residents of Japan, including Tokyo, are bracing for a landfall by powerful Typhoon Phanfone.
Phanfone is no longer a super typhoon, the status it briefly achieved Saturday local time, but remains a dangerous typhoon and on a path to mainland Japan.
Residents should be finalizing necessary preparations and heeding any evacuation orders as Phanfone barrels closer.
Phanfone will take a curve to the northeast through the rest of the weekend, turning away from the Ryukyu Islands. However, the powerful typhoon will still pass close enough to graze the islands from Amami northward with some rain and wind through Sunday.
The island of Osumi and the nearby southeastern coast of Kyushu are at risk for damaging wind gusts of 130 and 160 kph (80 and 100 mph).
While rain will continue to increase across Shikoku and southern Honshu through Sunday, conditions will deteriorate later Sunday through Monday morning in a west-to-east fashion as Phanfone heads to the northeast. Heavy rain will also eventually spread to northern Honshu early Monday.
Phanfone is expected to slam into Japan’s southern Wakayama Prefecture Sunday night local time with maximum sustained winds of around 175 kph (110 mph), meaning its strength will be equal to that of a borderline Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific basins.
While weakening, the typhoon will track northeastward across southern Honshu through Monday morning. Such a path will take the typhoon very close to Tokyo.
The southern coast of Honshu, from the prefectures of Wakayama to Chiba, will bear the brunt of Phanfone’s fury. Destructive wind gusts of 160 to 195 kph (100 to 120 mph) threaten to cause widespread and significant damage to tree and structures. Residents should prepare for extensive and lengthy power outages.
“Along the southern coast of Shikoku and Honshu, coastal flooding will be a significant concern as well. A general storm surge of 1 to 2 meters (3 to 6 feet) is expected along this area,” stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Adam Douty.
“In some of the bays, including Sagami and Suruga bays and possibly Tokyo Bay, storm surge has the potential to exceed 2 meters (6 feet).”
Such a storm surge threatens to inundate Tokyo’s ports and communities that line Tokyo Bay.
The city of Tokyo will also be subject to sustained winds of 65 to 95 kph (40 to 60 mph) with gusts to 145 kph (90 mph), as well as rain totals of 75 to 150 mm (3 to 6 inches).
Residents should prepare for widespread street flooding, damage to trees and some structures, power outages and flight cancelations. The worst of Phanfone will blast Tokyo later Sunday night through Monday morning.
Douty expects conditions to rapidly improve around Tokyo Monday afternoon as Phanfone races out to sea and transitions to a non-tropical system.
The heaviest rain will bypass Tokyo and the rest of far southeastern Honshu to the north and west, instead targeting the zone from eastern Shikoku to the Honshu prefecture of Fukushima. Amounts of 150 to 250 mm (6 to 10 inches) are expected, triggering widespread and life-threatening flash flooding.
“There will even be 300 millimeters (a foot) or more of rain in the mountains,” stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Adam Douty. That amount of rain is sure to cause not only flooding but also mudslides.
Mount Ontake, site of Saturday’s deadly volcanic eruption, will be inundated with 100 to 200 mm (4 to 8 inches) of rain. Debris flows resulting from the torrential rain and ash are a serious concern around the volcano, further hindering the search for additional victims.
Japan’s NHK World reports that 50 people have been confirmed dead since Saturday’s eruption, the worst volcanic disaster in post-war Japan.
As Phanfone departs Japan, attention will then turn toward strengthening Typhoon Vongfong.