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Posted at 11:05 AM ET, 09/21/2011

Typhoon Roke crashes into Japan

Police officers in rain gear regulate vehicles moving across a flooded national route in Toyokawa, central Japan,on Wednesday Sept. 21, 2011 as powerful Typhoon Roke lashes central Japan with heavy rains and sustained winds of up to 100 mph (162 kph). (Anonymous - AP)
Packing sustained winds of 100 mph, equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane, Typhoon Roke made landfall at 1 a.m. EDT or 2 p.m. local time today in Honshu, near Hamamatsu in south-central mainland Japan, southwest of Tokyo. Tokyo experienced sustained tropical storm force winds with gusts reaching 83 mph. The storm’s peak winds did weaken by about 30 mph in the 12 hours prior to landfall.

Roke, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is currently just offshore northeast Japan, passing the same region devastated by the March 11 tsunami and earthquake. In addition, a 5.2-magnitude quake was reported in that region at 10:30 p.m. local time although there were no apparent reports of major damage.

AccuWeather reports Fukushima, home of the damaged nuclear plant from the March earthquake and tsunami, received 8 inches of rain, but was spared damaging winds:

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), winds have not been significant at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. meteorologist Jeff Masters blogged Fukushima’s winds were less than 25 mph.

Policemen attempt to remove a toppled tree in Tokyo. (AP)
Fearing the worst, workers scrambled to prepare the nuclear plant for Roke, as described by Japan Today :

Loose cables and hoses were being tied down and efforts made to ensure radiation was not whipped up by winds that have been recorded at more than 200 kilometers an hour.

Teams were putting sheeting over holes in the reactor buildings to try to prevent torrential rain from getting inside the stricken reactors.

Both the New York Times and the Guardian quoted officials saying the plant was ready to withstand Roke’s wrath. Thus far, the Globe and Mail reports officials at the plant have “cited no immediate problems”.

To the south, in central Japan, the Globe and Mail reports more than 200,000 households lost power. Throughout, central and eastern Japan, evacuations advisories went out to more than a million people, including 800,000 in the city of Nagoya, 170 miles west of Tokyo.

The New York Times reports Tokyo itself was briefly shut down, but fared reasonably well:

Strong winds and rains brought most subways and commuter trains to at least a temporary halt, stranding tens of thousands at stations. Bullet train and airline service was canceled.

Even so, most of Tokyo continued to have electric power even as the eye of the storm passed through the city on Wednesday evening, a testament to Japan’s generally robust basic infrastructure. According to Tokyo Electric Power, about 20,000 homes lost electricity in Tokyo, a city of almost 13 million residents.

The worst of the storm has now passed Tokyo, which received about 5” of rain according to’s Jeff Masters.

Multiple media outlets indicate at least four people had died in central and western Japan.

Flooding rains have been a major issue in both south and central parts of the country.

AccuWeather summarized some of the top rainfall totals:

Roke slammed Nagoya with nearly 11 inches of rain in 54 hours, ending at 3 p.m. Wednesday local time, and 69-mph wind gusts.

Nagoya, however, does not sit at the top of Roke’s rainfall totals list. Almost 24 inches of rain inundated Tokushima, Japan in 48 hours, ending early Wednesday morning local time. Tokushima is located on the island of Shikoku.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano of CNN tweeted Tokushima picked up 15” of rain in 24 hours alone.

By  |  11:05 AM ET, 09/21/2011

Categories:  Latest, Tropical Weather, International Weather

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