TOPPhanfone Slams Central Japan, Coastal Areas, Spares Tokyo

Phanfone Slams Central Japan, Coastal Areas, Spares Tokyo

By Alec Jordan

While central Tokyo dodged the brunt of Typhoon Phanfone’s wrath, coastal areas of Kanagawa Prefecture were hit hard, as were Okinawa, Kyushu, and parts of central Japan. At least three people were killed as a result of the storm, and four are still missing.

After passing through Okinawa and Kyushu on Sunday, Phanfone touched down in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Monday morning. More than 1.2 million people, particularly those living in areas nearby rivers or at risk for mudslides, were advised to evacuate, including parts of Minato Ward in Tokyo. Many schools were closed for the day across Japan. More than 400 domestic flights were canceled as a result of Phanfone, Shinkansen service between Osaka and Tokyo was interrupted, and train lines throughout central Japan were halted or heavily delayed.

Broadcaster NHK reports that mudslides brought on by heavy rain killed two men in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. A surfer, who may have been lured by the potential of catching large “storm swell” waves generated by the typhoon, was reported missing off the coast of Fujisawa in Kanagawa. The three US airmen who were swept out to sea in Okinawa on Sunday were taking pictures of the 10-to-15-foot waves when they were washed off shore. The body of one of the soldiers was found that day, while two are still missing; search efforts were still under way as of Monday. At least 62 people across Japan were injured by the storm.

Heavy rain was already falling around Japan on Sunday, and in Mie Prefecture, to the west of Shizuoka, poor road conditions put a damper on the Japanese Grand Prix being held at Suzuka City. F1 driver Jules Bianchi suffered a severe head injury after losing control of his car on the wet track and crashing. The race, which was in its final stages, was stopped following the accident. Bianchi is listed in critical but stable condition.

In addition to heavy rainfall, strong gusts of wind were measured at Omaezaki in Shizuoka (162 kph/101 mph) and Tateyama Air Base in Chiba Prefecture (159 kph/99 mph). Tokyo’s Haneda Airport recorded occasional 112 kph (70 mph) gusts of wind as the storm passed through Tokyo.

However, despite the concern that the typhoon would make a direct hit on Tokyo itself, the nation’s capital was mostly unaffected by the storm; following a morning of rain and winds, skies were mostly clear and temperatures were in the mid-to-high 20s for the remainder of the day.

Following on its Phanfone’s heels, Typhoon Vongfong is brewing in the seas to the southeast of Japan and could reach the mainland by next week.

You can see a video of the heavy seas off the coast of Katase-kaigan, in Kanagawa Prefecture, below:

Composite of satellite images taken of Typhoon Phanfone as it approached Japan: Stuart Rankin/Flickr