Over 100 people have died, and a hydro-electric dam was destroyed by mud slides, and portions of villages have been buried. Hokkaido has so far been battered by two typhoons since Thursday and without break in between. Water supplies and electricity has been cut off in some areas, and the Japan Self Defence Force (army) are overwhelmed and under equipped. Some villages have no communication out of their mountainous areas. Local governments are unable to assess the full extent of damage as some communities have been completely cut of with roads and communications destroyed. Some villages have created SOS signs for aircraft to see. In some places after mud slides dams were created creating fragile walls and holding a lot of muddy water, threatening more villages in isolated parts of Japan.
It seems that so far, 2011 is the year that Japan would rather forget, but could never.
Typhoon Talas, the 12th typhoon of 2011, has moved so slowly that the storm zone entered parts of mainland Japan on Thursday, and is still expected to depart Monday. At times it was claimed to have been travelling at 15km/h, and other times less than 10km/h. At such speeds, many parts of Japan has experienced excessive rain falls since Thursday, and is expected to continue into Monday. This brings floods, loosening of ground leading to landslides, disintegration of some dykes, swelling of rivers which has already lead a lady who was evacuating to an emergency shelter to be washed away.
At the time of writing, drainage canal water levels continue to rise as heavy rain continues to fall unabated. Below is a photo of an emergency flood and marine alert automated station.
Every time there was a typhoon in Taiwan, I always heard that there had been at least one idiot who went to the coast to watch the big waves, and that idiot got washed away and died.
This time, this idiot finally got interested in seeing what the waves look like near where I live. I live very close to Ise Bay, where the major cities of Nagoya, Yokkaichi and Toyota are located. I decided to take my bicycle as it gives me better access along the dyke, so I road my bicycle into the wind in very low gear (2-2 and sometimes 1-1). After 40 minutes of hard cycling I eventually got to the coast to see the bay. The waves were… small. About a foot high, but the wind was full gale force, and the rain stung my skin. There were gale force warnings and flood warnings for my area. I slowly road back home taking photos along the way, and rarely needing to pedal (the wind was strong enough to power me up to being faster than running speed). By the time I got home in my prefecture one person was already missing, 18 injured, some homes were evacuated, and landslides in areas near mountains became likely. Because the typhoon is moving so slowly, there will be so much rain falling over a protracted time and not draining, and so there will be disasters occurring.
Below is the start of a new collection of Disaster photos. The collection currently focuses on tsunami and storm surge dykes. It is modest, but one must start somewhere. If I were funded, I would be prepared to travel to better locations (further than I care to ride a bicycle).
Typhoon Talas, (or in Japanese “Typhoon number 12”) has slowed considerably. This time Thursday it was moving NNW at 10km/h, then at 4pm at 15km/h, now Friday morning the Japan Meteorological Agency describes it as moving “slowly” (see the English language page below). Typhoon bring heavy rains, and if the heavy rains linger there will be flooding, landslides, and other serious damage. Sustained powerful winds will also weaken many structures. As pointed out in yesterdays blog post, the slower a typhoon moves the more powerful it is (stronger winds). The typhoon is moving a little to the south of Nagoya, where I live, but the storm area is not a perfect circle. Typically, the strongest part of a northern hemisphere typhoon is from the north-west, north, north-east, to the eastern quarters. The central region of Japan, like Shikoku just to the south will bare the brunt of the typhoon.
The main concern for my location is flooding. We live behind levy walls that protect us from tsunamis and storm surges, but I don’t know how they can handle strong storm surges at high tide. That is to say, a New Orleans is possible here. It has already happened in 1959 with the major storm surge coupled with a high tide from Typhoon Vera (or “Ise Wan Typhoon”). However, since 1959 there has been extensive redesigning and rebuilding of the levy bank walls. The walls are now water proof, protected from heavy and consistent rain, have much more solid foundations (protecting from heavy waves), and a higher.
The course of Typhoon Talas, the twelfth typhoon of the season, as at 9am Friday 2nd Sept