According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, Typhoon Neoguri, the strongest typhoon so far in the 2014 Western Pacific season, is slowly closing in on the west coast of Kyushu, the most southerly of Japan’s four main islands. It is expected to cross the island tomorrow as its track continues to curve eastwards. In the process, the center of the storm may cross exposed coastal portions of Shikoku and Honshu as it skirts the east coast of Japan.
“Because of the orientation of Japan’s coastline, even a slight change in the forecast track of the storm may have significant implications for loss potential—by taking it much closer to Tokyo for example,” said Jason Butke, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide.
As it approaches Kyushu, the storm is moving east-northeast slowly, at only about 15 km/h [9.32 mph]. Although it is weakening, Neoguri is still a large storm with a large area of precipitation and flooding is still a potential concern. Power outages are expected and the Kyushu Japan Railway has suspended bullet train services between Kumamoto and Kagoshima on Thursday.
According to Japan’s Automated Meteorological Data Acquisition System (AMeDAS), precipitation has ranged from 50-150 mm [1.97 to 5.9 inches] across most of Kyushu with Ehimo, at nearly 1200 meters [3937 feet], receiving close to 250 mm [9.84 inches] so far. Rainfall rates as high as 42.5 mm/h [1.673 inches] have been observed in Kyushu. Parts of Shikoku Island, in particular the mountainous interior, have received over 100 mm [3.937 inches] so far and that will likely increase considerably as Neoguri passes to the south.
On Kyushu, The highest 10-minute sustained wind speeds were 61 km/h [38 mph] in Makurazaki with a gust of 101 km/h [63.75 mph]. A few other stations have experienced 10-minute sustained wind speeds around 54 km/h [33.5 mph] with gusts around 90 km/h [56 mph]. These are borderline tropical storm wind speeds and are consistent with Japan Meteorological Agency’s latest advisory of peak 10-minute sustained of 90 km/h and gusts to 126 km/h [78.3 mph].
Butke noted, “Neoguri’s center is expected to make landfall on the west coast of Kyushu near the city of Kagoshima at about 6 a.m. local time on Thursday (Wednesday night in the U.S.). It is forecast to be a strong tropical storm at that time, and to continue weakening as it bypasses Shikoku and Honshu islands.”
The Japan Meteorological Agency has forecast heavy rain (up to 80 mm/h) [3.15 inches] over much of Japan through Thursday. Parts of Shikoku, in western Japan, could receive the equivalent of three months’ worth of rainfall in just two days as the storm passes.
Butke concluded: “Much of Japan has been soaked by heavy rain over the last few days, and the heavy downpours from Neoguri may cause widespread landslides and flooding. Some storm surge flooding is possible on the west and south-facing shorelines of Kyushu and Shikoku.”
Source: AIR Worldwide