Typhoon Roke hits Japan causing flooding, deaths

September 21, 2011

Typhoon Roke hit Japan’s main island on Wednesday, and after causing evacuations, cancellations and deaths is moving through the northeastern coast, which is still recovering from the tsunami and earthquake that hit in March. As Chico Harlan reported:

A powerful typhoon hit Japan’s main island on Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of more than 1.2 million from the area and causing the deaths or disappearance of at least 13 people as it began its slow path toward the northeastern part of the country.

As Typhoon Roke made landfall, businesses in Japan all but halted, with the cancellation of domestic flights and bullet train services between Tokyo and Osaka.

With a maximum speed of 130 miles per hour, the typhoon drenched the western and central part of the country, which also was blasted two weeks earlier by another fierce storm.

The deluge caused fears of landslides and flooding, particularly in Nagoya, the fourth-largest city, located about 170 miles west of Tokyo.

The Associated Press reported that 13 people were dead or missing as a result of the storm.

The typhoon later Wednesday moved into the northeastern coastal region, which is still trying to recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

At the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant workers attempted to secure the facility against any typhoon damage. As AP explained:

Officials at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, where engineers are still struggling with small radiation leaks due to tsunami damage, expressed relief that Typhoon Roke’s driving winds and rain caused no immediate problems there other than a broken security camera.

“The worst seems to be over,” said Takeo Iwamoto, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., after the storm passed just west of the plant on its way north.

At the Fukushima plant, engineers are still working to stabilize the reactors six months after three of them melted down when the tsunami disabled the plant’s power and back-up generators.

Iwamoto said the storm passed without damaging the reactors’ cooling systems, which are crucial to keeping them under control. However, a closed-circuit camera that shows exteriors of the reactor buildings abruptly stopped, he said.

Workers were trying to prevent pools of contaminated water from flooding and leaking outside the complex, said Junichi Matsumoto, another power company spokesman.

“The contaminated water levels have been rising, and we are watching the situation very closely to make sure it stays there,” Matsumoto told reporters.

Typhoon Roke made landfall with winds equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane, as Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow reported:

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:

More from The Washington Post

Typhoon Roke slams Japan

Typhoon headed to Japan disaster zone

Japanese officials call for 1.2 million to evacuate before Typhoon Roke

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