Japan's deadly heat wave declared a natural disaster as death toll continues to rise
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
July 24, 2018, 4:12:17 PM EDT
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The deadly heat will continue across Japan through at least Thursday, following the hottest day on record in Japan.
The highest temperature ever recorded by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) was reported on Monday when Kumagaya reached 41.1 C (106 F).
The Greater Tokyo Area also set an all-time high temperature on Monday as the mercury climbed to 40.8 C (105.4 F).
The JMA declared the heat wave to be a natural disaster on Tuesday as the death toll reached 77, according to the Japan Times.
More than 30,000 people have been hospitalized for heat-related illnesses since July 9.
“AccuWeather estimates the death toll from the Japan heat wave is likely already in the hundreds despite the official toll, and we predict the number will climb into the thousands before the heat wave ends,” AccuWeather President and Founder Dr. Joel N. Myers said. “The actual total human toll may not ever be known as heat-related fatality reports are historically underdone since not all deaths are correctly attributed to heat and some result from accelerating serious health issues and the fatalities show up weeks later. The elderly and those with pre-existent conditions, such as asthma and heart failure, are likely to face declining health due to exacerbation of their conditions due to weather. Heat exhaustion and stroke, dehydration, migraines, loss of sleep and mood alteration can all occur due to dangerous heat. Historical data shows that more people are likely to be involved in vehicle crashes due to heat-related impacts, such as decreased ability to concentrate, the poor quality of sleep they get and impaired mood, etc.”
“Further, in areas not prone to heat, air conditioners are less prevalent and so there may not be places people can go for relief from the heat or they may not realize the toll the heat is taking on their body, and as a result do not drink sufficient water or take other precautions,” Myers said.
“To stay informed about the dangerous heat and to obtain the most accurate forecasts download the free AccuWeather app,” Myers said.
Widespread temperatures of 35 C (95 F) will be reported each day through at least Thursday in inland locations, while coastal communities can only expect modest relief from the heat.
Sweltering humidity will push AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures between 38 and 43 C (100 and 110 F) during the midday and afternoon hours.
Normal high temperatures range from 29 C (84 F) in Tokyo to 30 C (87 F) in Osaka and 31 C (88 F) in Nagoya, so this heat is well above normal.
Warm nights will only make the long-duration heat wave more dangerous, especially for the elderly and children.
The JMA has warned people to take precautions against heat stroke. Be sure to drink plenty of water, avoid exercising in the heat outdoors and wear light-colored, loose-fitted clothing.
A newly formed tropical storm in the west Pacific Ocean could bring big changes to Japan this weekend.
A tropical depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Jongdari early Wednesday morning, local time, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. This storm is expected to track northward and strengthen as the week progresses.
The potential exists for a turn toward the west this weekend bringing the tropical cyclone near or into eastern Japan.
While this scenario would bring an end to the record heat, it would renew the risk for deadly flooding and mudslides.
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Some parts of southern Japan are still recovering following the deadliest rain-related flooding in Japan in more than three decades. The death toll climbed above 220 last week according to the Japan Times with more than 20 people still missing.
The recent heat wave has also affected South Korea where at least seven people have died from heat-related illnesses in the past week, according to Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A new all-time maximum daily low temperature was reported in Gangneung as the temperature only fell to 31.0 C (87.8 F). The highest temperature of the year so far was recorded at 39.9 C (103.8 F) in the town of Hayang.
South Korea will continue to endure unseasonable heat this week and is unlikely to have any relief from the new tropical depression.
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