Typhoon Ma-On Nears Japan

July 18, 2011

According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, Category 2 Typhoon Ma-On (local name Ineng) is currently about 885 kilometers (550 miles) southwest of Tokyo. The storm packs winds with gusts up to 157 km/h (98 mph). It has passed Minami Daito Island and is moving at about 19 km/h (12 mph) toward the north.

Ma-On is expected to stay at its current intensity for the next 24 hours and make landfall on Shikoku Island Tuesday morning local time. “Ma-On is a large storm with typhoon force winds extending outward up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) from its center,” said AIR, “while tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 360 kilometers (225 miles). Severe weather warnings are in effect for Kyushu, Shikoku, and Tokai regions.”

In preparation for the storm’s arrival, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is working to install a cover over a building at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to protect it from Ma-On’s winds and rain.

Dr. Peter Sousounis, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide, noted: “Earlier forecasts put Ma-On traveling just to the east of Japan, much closer to Tokyo, but at present the Japan Meteorological Agency has Ma-On making landfall on Shikoku Island Tuesday morning local time and then recurving sharply towards the east, passing well south of Tokyo. However, because of the orientation of Japan’s coastline, even slight disparities in forecast tracks have significant implications for loss potential.

“The storm is expected to bring destructive winds to Japan’s southern coasts and some 12 to 24 centimeters of precipitation as the storm slows and begins to recurve before undergoing extra tropical transitioning,” he added. “In Japan, more than half of storms undergo extra tropical transition, which can exacerbate flooding. Even weak storms several hundred kilometers offshore can cause flood damage on land.”

According to AIR, due to the country’s strict construction codes, modern homes along the coastal areas of Japan are well engineered and the region has been equipped with storm surge barriers along the most vulnerable coastal regions. Insurance penetration for wind insurance in Japan is roughly 50 percent for residential buildings and 95 percent for commercial buildings, respectively.

Source: AIR Worldwide

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