The day before Hagibis made landfall in Japan, residents of Tokyo were scraping for the last supermarkets had to sell across the city as they prepared for what the Japan Times reported Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike had called “a typhoon of unprecedented scale.”
Hagibis rapidly strengthened in the West Pacific to become the third super typhoon of the season last week. The storm went from a tropical depression with sustained winds of 30 mph to a super typhoon producing winds of 150 mph only 48 hours later.
At a peak strength of 160 mph, the typhoon tied with Wutip from February as the most powerful tropical cyclone in the West Pacific Basin this year.
Although the Japan Meteorological Agency had downgraded the status of the storm to a “strong” typhoon before landfall in Japan, the agency had warned in a news conference during that Friday morning the storm could be as severe as the Kanogawa Typhoon, which had killed more than 1,200 people in 1958 and is one of the deadliest typhoons on record, the New York Times reported.
By 5 a.m. local time Saturday, the JMA had downgraded the scale of Hagibis from a “large and strong” typhoon to a “large” typhoon with maximum sustained winds of about 70 mph and gusts of about 98 mph.
The deadly Typhoon Hagibis made landfall in Japan just before 7 p.m. local time on Saturday, moving ashore near Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture and packing winds of the equivalent strength as a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean basins.
As of 7 a.m. local time, at least three people have died and nine others are missing during in the chaos that Hagibis has brought. The NHK reported four people are missing after two landslides destroyed homes in the Gunma and Fukushima prefectures and four others had been swept away by floodwaters. A man is also missing in the Shizuoka Prefecture.
The Tochigi City Fire Department told Kyodo News Sunday morning that a woman who had been previously reported as missing had been found dead in a waterway around 4:30 a.m. local time on Sunday.
Twelve hours before landfall, evacuation advisories were set in place for 86,846 households and 191,878 people in Odawara, a city in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture at 7 a.m. Saturday morning local time, according to local news station NHK. The evacuation advisory was at a warning level 4 out of 5, calling for immediate evacuation.
As the number of evacuations began to mount toward at least 4 million people, the NHK said, so did the number of power outages across the regions. Bands of wind and rain preceding Hagibis knocked out the power for more than 270,000 households. By just after midnight local time, over 431,900 homes were without power after landfall. Some locations may be without power for an extended period during and following the storm.
Wind gusts measured up to 100 mph at Kozushima, one of the islands south of Tokyo an hour after landfall at 8 p.m. local time, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty.
“The strongest wind will be near the coast where some damage is possible. This is an area that was just hit by Faxai early in September that brought significant damage,” Douty said.
By 5 a.m. local time on Friday, areas around Shizuoka, Japan, were already flooding.
“One of the big issues with Hagibis will be the heavy rain coming in a short period of time along and to the north of the storm’s path,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Houk said.
The NHK reported that a record-level of nearly 1,000 millimeters of rain, or close to 39 inches, from the storm had fallen over Hakone Town in the Kanagawa Prefecture over a timespan of 48 hours.
The Japan Meteorology Agency issued level 5 heavy rain emergencies – the highest level of warning in the JMA’s five-level warning system – across at least seven prefectures early Sunday morning.
“Reports of rainfall totals between 6 to 12 inches, or 152 to 304 millimeters, have been common across Kansai, Chubu and Kanto through Saturday night, local time, but locally higher amounts have been reported in higher elevations of the mountains,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Maura Kelly said. “Chichibu reported 20.11 inches, or 511 millimeters, of rainfall through Saturday night.
At least seven rivers are in their flooding stages in central and eastern Japan, according to NHK news.
Early Sunday morning, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government decided to apply the Disaster Relief Law to the 25 wards and municipalities of Tokyo due to the damage caused by Hagibis, the news source said.
This means that government and city aid will pay for the installation of evacuation shetlers and emergency repairs for damaged homes.
“Hagibis will move offshore by Sunday morning and conditions will quickly improve throughout the day across northern areas in mainland Japan and Hokkaido,” Kelly said. “While high pressure building over northern Japan will bring dry conditions on Sunday night, a weak storm system will begin to develop near southern Japan. This system can bring occasional showers to coastal locations of Kansai, Chubu and Kanto, areas hardest hit by Hagibis.”
In the storm’s approach, most events scheduled for Saturday had been rescheduled for Sunday, including Saturday’s qualifying race for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka International Racing Course.
With the storm moving away from Tokyo by 6 a.m. Sunday morning, transportation operations such as the Haneda Airport are beginning to resume once again.
“Another cold front is expected to move over Japan and bring occasional showers to the area during the beginning of next week,” Kelly said. “By the middle of the week, dry conditions look to return to areas recovering from Hagibis. Dry weather may last through the end of the week before the next chance of rain arrives in southern Japan.”