Tropical storm Meari ravages Japan with heavy rainfall, wind

TOKYO — Tropical Storm Meari caused heavy rainfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu as it moved north toward the capital Tokyo on Saturday, according to Japanese weather officials.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Meari made landfall in Shizuoka prefecture southwest of Tokyo in the afternoon, bringing sudden heavy rains and high winds to a widespread area, warning of mudslides and flooding.

More than 72,000 people in the area’s main city, Shizuoka, had to evacuate due to potential landslides.

Meari, with sustained winds up to 72 kilometers (45 miles) per hour, passed Shizuoka and traveled at a speed of about 20 kilometers (12 miles) per hour. The storm was expected to continue north before bending east and swinging over the Pacific Ocean by early Sunday.

The Tokyo area was ravaged by periodic downpours in the late morning. Warnings were issued for high waves in coastal areas off Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture southwest of Tokyo and other nearby areas.

Authorities have warned not to go near rivers and other bodies of water, as water levels can rise suddenly. Rain was expected to worsen overnight in Tokyo and areas north of Tokyo, they said. For the Tokyo region, warnings were issued for flooding, strong winds and heavy rainfall.

Japanese media reports showed video footage of rivers rising precariously and nearly reaching the bridge decks, as rain poured down on houses and people rushed through the streets, clinging to their umbrellas.

Japan is in the midst of the Bon summer holidays and vacationers travel in droves, although some have had to cancel or change plans.

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The Rock in Japan Festival 2022, which began a week ago in Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo, canceled the event for Saturday, the last day of the open-air festival, and promised ticket refunds.

All Nippon Airways has canceled some local flights in response to the storm. Low cost airline Skymark Airlines also canceled some flights. Bullet train services were delayed and speed limits in tunnels in Shizuoka were temporarily lowered as a warning. Due to the heavy rainfall, parts of the Tomei Expressway, which connects Tokyo with Nagoya, were temporarily closed.

Northern Japan has recently had heavy rainfall and concerns about landslides have increased. Rainfall was forecast to decrease in the Tokyo area early Sunday before reaching northeastern Japan.

The world’s third-largest economy has often killed and injured seasonal storms and torrential rains that damage dams, blow off roofs and bring down power lines.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter

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