Powerful typhoon pounds southern Japan; thousands evacuated

September 18, 2022
High waves are observed on the coast of Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Sept. 18, 2022, due to the approach of Typhoon Nanmadol. — courtesy Kyodo
High waves are observed on the coast of Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Sept. 18, 2022, due to the approach of Typhoon Nanmadol. — courtesy Kyodo

TOKYO — A powerful typhoon approaching southern Japan pounded the region with strong winds and heavy rain Sunday, causing blackouts, paralyzing ground and air transportation and prompting the evacuation of thousands of people, the Associated Press reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Typhoon Nanmadol was near the southern island of Yakushima, packing maximum winds of 162 kilometers (101 miles) per hour. It slowly headed north to the country’s main southern island of Kyushu where it could make landfall later Sunday.

Nanmadol is forecast to turn east and reach Tokyo on Tuesday. The agency predicted as much as 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rainfall by midday Monday, warning of flooding and landslides.

It also warned residents in the affected area of unprecedented levels of powerful winds and waves, urging them to evacuate early. Local authorities so far reported no major damage or injuries.

In the hard-hit Kagoshima prefecture, more than 9,000 residents took shelter at evacuation centers Sunday. In the neighboring Miyazaki prefecture, another 4,700 people were evacuated.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. said more than 93,000 homes across Kyushu were without electricity Sunday because of damage to power lines and facilities.

Footage on NHK television showed a pachinko pinball parlor with part of its glass wall shattered by the gust in Kanoya city in Kagoshima. Elsewhere in the prefecture, an elderly woman suffered a minor injury after falling, NHK said.

Hundreds of domestic flights have been canceled and more are planned to be grounded in western Japan through Tuesday as the typhoon headed northeast, according to Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

Public transportation including trains and buses in Kagoshima and Miyazaki were suspended throughout Sunday. Railway operators said bullet trains on Kyushu island also have been suspended.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Typhoon Nanmadol continued to move slowly northward over Kyushu after making landfall in Kagoshima Prefecture and could travel along the Honshu main island in the coming days.

The agency, which issued a special typhoon warning for Kagoshima on Saturday night, said that part of neighboring Miyazaki Prefecture saw linear rainbands with over 400 millimeters of precipitation recorded in some areas in the 24 hours through Sunday afternoon.

The Shikoku, Chugoku and Kinki regions in western Japan could see linear rainbands through Monday morning, the agency warned. This marks the first time the agency has issued a special typhoon warning for an area apart from Okinawa Prefecture.

Although the typhoon, the 14th this season, had weakened slightly by 3 a.m. Sunday, there was still a possibility of maximum gusts of around 250 kilometers per hour. In Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture, top wind speeds of up to 183.24 kph were recorded on Sunday morning.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called on people in Japan to evacuate promptly if they “even feel the slightest danger” when he attended a meeting with ministers and senior officials in charge of responding to the dangerous typhoon.

Kishida also ordered the officials “to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the people with a sense of urgency.”

Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Nagasaki prefectures have all followed Kagoshima’s lead and have applied the disaster relief law to all their municipalities. This will allow them to receive support from the local and central governments.

The typhoon, which had an atmospheric pressure of 935 hectopascals at its center, is moving at 20 kph and is expected to curve eastward after reaching northern Kyushu and travel across Japan’s main archipelago.

The agency said Shikoku could see up to 500 mm of rainfall in the 24 hours to Monday evening.

The West Japan Railway Co. said it will stop running all Sanyo Shinkansen bullet trains between Hiroshima and Hakata stations on Monday. The train company said it will also reduce the number of bullet trains operating between Osaka and Hiroshima until around 2 p.m. on Monday and will suspend services in sequence thereafter between the two major cities.

Central Japan Railway Co., meanwhile, said all Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains between Osaka and Nagoya will be canceled from Monday afternoon throughout the day. It will also drastically cut the number of trains between Nagoya and Tokyo. — Agencies

September 18, 2022
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