Deadly Typhoon Phanfone Lashes Japan

By By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
October 07, 2014, 5:31:59 AM EDT

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More lives and property are being threatened, including in Tokyo, as Typhoon Phanfone bears down on Japan.

Phanfone is no longer a super typhoon, the status it briefly achieved on Saturday local time, but remains a dangerous and deadly typhoon.

Amid the fierce seas being kicked up by Phanfone, a press release from Kadena Air Base reports one airman is confirmed dead and two more are missing after they were washed out to sea from the northwest coast of Okinawa Sunday afternoon, local time.

"Rough seas are complicating rescue efforts," stated the release.

The Japanese media outlet, NHK, reports that 31 others in the country have been injured.

Heavy rain is already inundating Tokyo and many other communities in southern Honshu (see the latest Japan radar) well head of the typhoon's center. Some areas have seen more than a foot of rainfall, with hourly hourly totals of 2-3 inches per hour.


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Phanfone made landfall around 8:15 a.m. JST Monday near Hamamatsu, bringing winds up to 144 kph (90 mph) and gusts up to 185 kph (115 mph).

More than 400,000 people were evacuated from Phanfone's path, The Associated Press reported.

An natural-disaster-related evacuation order was issued for the first time by the Minato Ward Office for about 23,000 households, the Japan Times reported on its website. But only one family had followed the order 90 minutes after it was issued.

Winds will increase and more torrential rain will arrive in a west-to-east fashion across southern and eastern Honshu through Monday morning as Phanfone tracks across southern Honshu. 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 trees and structures. Residents should prepare for extensive and lengthy power outages.

More than 30,000 Japanese electric customers were without service Monday afternoon, utilities reported.

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"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 of 9:17 a.m. Monday JST, Tokyo received 236 mm of rain (9.33 inches) with a total of 200 to 250 mm (8 to 10 inches) expected.

Residents should prepare for widespread flooding, damage to trees and some structures, power outages and flight cancellations. The worst of Phanfone will blast Tokyo during the mid- and late-morning hours of Monday.

Douty expects conditions to rapidly improve around Tokyo on Monday afternoon as Phanfone races out to sea and transitions to a non-tropical system.


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Widespread rain totals of 200 to 250 mm (8 to 10 inches) are also expected from eastern Shikoku to the Honshu prefecture of Fukushima, triggering widespread and life-threatening flash flooding.

In six hours, Muroto-misaki on eastern Shikoku picked up 137.5 mm (5.41 inches) of rain in just six hours as well as a wind gust of 146 kph (91 mph) Sunday night.

Nishikawa, in Wakayama Prefecture, was inundated with 59.5 mm (2.34 inches) of rain in one hour early Monday morning.

"There will even be 500 millimeters (20 inches) 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 deadly 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 51 people have been confirmed dead since Saturday's eruption, the worst volcanic disaster in post-war Japan.

By Tuesday, there will be dry conditions for cleanup efforts across most of the country, according to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Alan Reppert.

However, areas north and west of Tokyo could see shower showers, he added.

As Phanfone departs Japan, attention will then turn toward strengthening Typhoon Vongfong which could eventually affect Japan.

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