Typhoon Nanmadol made landfall in southwestern Japan on Sunday evening as authorities urged millions of people to seek shelter from the strong winds and torrential rain of the powerful storm.
The storm officially made landfall around 7 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) when its eyewall arrived near the city of Kagoshima, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.
It had gusts of up to 234 kilometers (146 miles) per hour and had already poured up to 500mm of rain on parts of southwestern Kyushu in less than 24 hours.
At least 20,000 people spent the night in shelters in Kyushu’s Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, where the JMA has issued a rare “special warning” — one that is only issued when it predicts conditions seen once every decades.
National broadcaster NHK, which gathers information from local authorities, said more than seven million people had been told to move to shelters or take refuge in sturdy buildings to weather the storm.
The evacuation warnings are not mandatory and authorities have sometimes struggled to convince people to move to shelters for extreme weather.
They tried to take their concerns about the weather system home all weekend.
“Please stay away from dangerous places and please evacuate if you feel the slightest hint of danger,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tweeted after calling a government meeting about the storm.
“It becomes dangerous to evacuate at night. Please get to safety while it’s still light outside.’
The JMA has warned that the region could face “unprecedented” danger from high winds, storm surges and torrential rain, calling the storm “extremely dangerous”.
“Areas affected by the storm are seeing the kind of rain that has never been experienced before,” Hiro Kato, head of the Weather Monitoring and Warning Center, told reporters on Sunday.
“Especially in areas with landslide warnings, it’s very likely that landslides are already happening.”
He urged “maximum caution, even in areas where disasters don’t usually happen”.
On Sunday evening, utilities said nearly 200,000 homes across the region were without power.
Trains, flights and ferries were canceled until the storm passed, and even some convenience stores — generally open all hours and considered a disaster rescue line — closed.
– ‘Highest possible caution’ –
“The southern part of the Kyushu region can see the kind of violent winds, high waves and high tides that have never been experienced before,” the JMA said on Sunday, urging residents to “use the utmost caution.”
At the scene, an official in the city of Izumi in Kagoshima said conditions deteriorated rapidly on Sunday afternoon.
“The wind has become extremely strong. It is also raining hard,” he told AFP. “It’s a total white-out outside. Visibility is almost zero.”
In the town of Minamata in Kyushu, fishing boats tied for safety bobbed on the waves as splashes and rain tires whipped the boardwalk.
The storm, which has weakened slightly as it approached land, is expected to turn northeasterly until early Wednesday and pass over Japan’s main island.
Japan is currently in typhoon season and faces about 20 such storms a year, with regular heavy rainfall causing landslides or flash flooding.
In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis swept into Japan when it hosted the Rugby World Cup, killing more than 100 people.
A year earlier, Typhoon Jebi shut down Kansai Airport in Osaka, killing 14 people.
And in 2018, floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the country’s annual rainy season.
Scientists say climate change is increasing the severity of storms and making extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and flash floods more frequent and intense.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)