Traces of the six typhoons that caused at least $6 billion in damage (2022 USD) in Japan, as assessed by EM-DAT, the international disaster database. #Nanmadol threatens to join this list. Credit: NOAA Historical Hurricanes Tracks Tool pic.twitter.com/MRSAcEGyHe
— Jeff Masters (@DrJeffMasters) September 17, 2022
Japan’s weather agency said the typhoon brought wind gusts of up to 168 mph near the remote island of Minami Daito, southeast of Okinawa.
A level 5 alert, the highest on Japan’s disaster warning scale, was issued to thousands of households on Saturday, with level 4 evacuation orders in cities like Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Amakusa, according to national broadcaster NHK.
Ryuta Kurora, the head of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s forecasting unit, told a news conference that “unprecedented” storms — including high waves, storm surges and record rains — could hit the region.
At 10 a.m. local time, the typhoon was located about 30 miles southeast of Yakushima Island, the Japanese meteorological agency said. Authorities advised residents to be “extremely careful with storms, high waves and storm surges,” along with landslides and flooding. Waves up to 14 meters (46 feet) are forecast for Sunday in some areas. Strong winds are forecast to persist in western Japan through Monday and may cause “some houses to collapse” on Kyushu, the southwesternmost of Japan’s main islands, the agency warned. “Ensure your own safety as soon as possible,” it said.
Strongest storm to hit Alaska in decades
Japan is in typhoon season, which routinely brings in more than a dozen storms a year. In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis triggered a record tidal wave that caused deadly flooding and landslides in densely populated areas of northern Japan, killing more than 80 people.
That typhoon was especially deadly because the typhoon’s inner core, with its heaviest rains and highest winds, remained intact as it passed over Tokyo and also dumped heavy rain over northeastern Japan.
Scientists say climate change is increasing the intensity of storms, causing more frequent and severe weather worldwide. A powerful ocean cyclone — the strongest storm in decades — is blowing Alaska’s west coast, causing major flooding in coastal communities and gusts of up to 90 mph. Meanwhile, a hurricane warning has been issued in Puerto Rico as Tropical Storm Fiona strengthens.
Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman contributed to this report.