Typhoon Shanshan continued its slow-moving approach towards the Tokyo region, with the tropical storm’s arrival likely to disrupt commuters from August 8 night through Thursday morning.
Authorities are warning that as the typhoon’s approach is unusually slow, its effects may be last longer than usual. The typhoon is set to bear down overnight on the Kanto region, where Tokyo is located, and may make landfall on Japan’s Pacific coast.
Shanshan is currently located about 320 kilometres southeast of Tokyo, moving north-northwest at 15 kph, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The tropical storm is carrying sustained wind speeds of 126 kph, making it a “strong” typhoon, the second-weakest on the JMA’s four-point scale, or the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
The typhoon is set to maintain its strength as it approaches overnight, and is likely to bring chaos to Tokyo commuters over the next 24 hours. Authorities advised workers to consider going home early on Wednesday, with the JMA predicting rainfall of up to 350 mm over the next 24 hours in the Kanto area. After approaching Japan’s coast, the typhoon will then turn northeast and is set to weaken, becoming a tropical depression by Saturday.
Shanshan is the latest extreme weather phenomenon to beset Japan. A heatwave brought the hottest July on record to much of the country, with the mercury hitting a record 41.1 degrees in one city about 90 minutes from Tokyo. The heat has been so severe, killing more than 100 and hospitalizing tens of thousands due to heatstroke, that it has led Japan to consider the introduction of summertime for the Tokyo Olympics to be held two years from now.
Earlier in July, record rains in the western part of Japan killed more than 200 people, with transportation links in many areas yet to recover.
Tropical cyclones are common throughout the summer months in Japan. Shanshan would be the second to make landfall this year, after Jongdari struck last month. Typhoon Wipha in 2013 was the strongest storm to approach the Kanto region in recent years, killing 40.