Published On: Wed, Oct 23rd, 2019

Typhoon tracker: Deadly typhoon forces Japan to address its vulnerabilities | World | News

A typhoon is a large low pressure system which develops over the Pacific Ocean, forming in the equatorial waters of the Pacific and moving towards Asia. On average, Japan is hit by around 30 typhoons each year, with seven or eight of these impacting the Okinawa islands, while only three smash Japan’s main islands. But why is Japan now making larger changes to address its vulnerabilities?

The 2019 Pacific typhoon season is currently the second most expensive pacific typhoon season on record, only behind last year.

Typhoon season is currently ongoing, with more storms developing throughout the year – although the highest level of tropical cyclone formation occurs between May and October.

This season, typhoon Wutip, typhoon Lekima, typhoon Hagibis and typhoon Bualoi have been the strongest twisters of the season, with recorded wind speeds of more than 120mph.

Typhoon Lekima and Typhoon Hagibis together are responsible for more than half the reported deaths from storms this season.

As Japan is susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons, the country has developed building codes to handle this.

Across the country local governments also prepare instruction manuals and practice regular safety drills to prepare for emergencies.

Given the unfortunate death toll from storms this year, Japan has been forced to evaluate its preparedness.

The disaster proved that levees built up over decades alongside Japan’s major rivers may not provide the protection needed from the increasingly powerful storms expected to accompany climate change.

Experts and government officials are discussing how to better prepare for future storms in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis which killed at least 80 people.

The land and infrastructure ministry announced it was forming a panel of experts to study the embankment failures and recommend remediation options. 

Experts are now calling for more attention to evacuation planning and long-term measures in order to encourage people to move off lowlands which are highly susceptible to flooding.

Typhoon Hagibis, which developed in early October, underwent a period of rapid intensification packing wind speeds of 195mph.

When it made landfall the winds had diminished from that point but were still considered to be at a dangerous level.

There is rife debate as to whether this was seen with Hagibis or not, considering it was the first time the phenomenon had occurred with a tropical cyclone.

That extra water is by some thought to have been a direct cause of deaths.

In one calendar day, 36 inches (922mm) of rain fell on Hakone, a town 73km southwest of Tokyo. The rains caused 55 rivers to breach embankments at 79 locations. 

In addition to the confirmed dead, 10 or so are still missing, and thousands are still living in evacuation shelters.

What storms are churning right now?

Typhoon Buoloi is the only active typhoon right now.

The storm has record wind speeds of 138mph, which is equivalent to the Category 4 hurricane according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The storm is located near latitude 21.7 north, longitude 142.2 east, which is approximately 193 nautical miles south southeast of Iwo To.

Typhoon Buoloi has tracked northwestwards over the past six hours and is begin weakening over the next 24 hours.

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