Typhoon Roke makes powerful landfall in Japan

Typhoon Roke, a strong typhoon with winds reaching 135 miles per hour, made landfall on September 21, 2011, around Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Millions of people were evacuated as this strong typhoon pushed into the country. As of now, Typhoon Roke has the strength equivalent of a Category 1 storm, with winds around 80 mph.

The biggest threat from Roke is the heavy rain and flooding that will be pushed along the eastern coast of Japan.  According to the Daily Yomiuri, at least four people are dead and two are missing. Over 1,000 schools are closed, and at least 300 flights have been cancelled. Heavy rain will affect Tokyo and the regions around the Fukushima power plant that melted down after the major earthquake and tsunami hit the region earlier this year.

Radar image showing the eye of Typhoon Roke approaching Japan. Image Credit: JMA

Forecast track for Typhoon Roke earlier this week. Image Credit: JMA

The intensity of Typhoon Roke was tricky as it pushed to the northeast into Japan. The original forecast had Roke decreasing in intensity as it approached Japan. However, the forecast of a strong tropical storm, with winds sustained around 65 to 70 mph, ended up wrong. Roke intensified into a super-typhoon, with winds sustained around 135 mph. Since the original forecast called only for a minimum Category 1 storm, forecasters knew the system would be stronger as it rapidly intensified.  In the image below, you can see that the original forecast point was to the south of the actual center of the storm (eye).  You can also see (especially if you click and zoom in) the original forecasts showing a tropical storm hitting Japan.

Typhoon Roke was north of the forecast point. It intensified more than predicted. Image Credit: CIMSS

As Roke moves into Japan, the right-hand quadrant – the strongest part of the storm – will be affecting parts of Tokyo and the Fukushima power plant. Winds will be coming from the southeast, so strong winds and large waves will be crashing into the Japanese coastline. As of now, wind speeds around 80 mph have been reported near Tokyo.  A few small tornadoes are possible as the system moves over the country today.  Preparations were underway yesterday as workers tried to secure the power plant. Tidal barriers were built around the plant after the huge tsunami hit the area, and it is believed that these barriers will provide sufficient protection from the storm surge of Typhoon Roke.

Bottom line: Typhoon Roke made landfall in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan on September 21, 2011, and is expected to produce heavy rains and flooding across the same areas that were hit hard by the tsunami in March 2011.

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Matt Daniel

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