Tag Archive for extreme weather

About super typhoons and Typhoon Jebi

At time of writing we are taking a direct hit from the typhoon. It’s the strongest I’ve experienced since I was in Taiwan. The last typhoon I saw in typhoon I saw a roof lifted and dumped onto the road below my apartment, where a driver stopped and stared at it for a good five minutes before his senses returned. Below is the clean up of that roof. I don’t remember why I didn’t photograph the actual incident. I just heard the loud crashing sound from inside my apartment.

Roofs can be deadly flying debris during a typhoon. Photo taken in Taiwan, 2005.

Roofs can be deadly flying debris during a typhoon. Photo taken in Taiwan, 2005.

Wind gusts of over 250km/h or about 125kt are strong enough for any flying debris to be deadly. DO NOT GO OUT if it is anywhere close to a super typhoon, and of course do not go out into a super typhoon.

Super typhoons can tear branches of trees and uproot others.

Super typhoons can tear branches of trees and uproot others.


Typhoons can be very dangerous. Here’s a sample of the dangers.


Heavy rain alert

There is a heavy rain alert issued by the Japanese Bureau of Meteorology. Already, urban area flooding has occurred, landslides in Gifu and in the south west of Japan. So far, two people are missing in landslide areas in the south. There is a risk of flood barriers collapsing, and threats of inundation. Many residents in low lying areas have been told to be prepared to evacuate at short notice. Some community shelters have already taken in elderly residents, and others who have difficulties moving. My area does have the threat of the local canals (pictured below) over flowing, and fire engines can sometimes be heard with sirens on going around my neighbourhood. Currently, the issued warnings say thunderstorms and dense fog. The full collection of photos in the Disaster gallery.

Heavy snow

Some parts of Japan have received heavy and accumulating snow. Last week many areas in the north received snow, followed by a slight warming, which has allowed the top layer to melt slightly before freezing again. On top of this icy layer, known in Japan as corn snow (due to it’s micro scopic shape), fresh snow created yet another layer. Concern is for a number of points.

  • The corn-snow layer allows for surface avalanches
  • Avalanches and surface avalanches can be triggered by earthquakes
  • Snow sliding off roofs can kill people under them. A meter of snow can weigh upto 500kg (1/2 ton).
  • Snow clearing with snow ploughs have killed pedestrians
  • Snow clearing off roofs have accounted for about 75% of deaths. Most deaths involve people aged 60 and over. Most deaths are as a result of falls, heart attacks, or falls with snow burials.
  • Solar panels on roofs have also contributed, as normal roofs have stoppers that hold snow in place, or slow the rate of fall. However, solar panels were not designed with this consideration, and often sit above snow stoppers, thus with the smooth surface are more dangerous than a regular roof (see the picture below).
  • Finally, some houses this week have collapsed under the weight of snow on their roofs. So far, some areas have more than 3 meters of accumulated snow.

Below are file pictures relating to the extreme weather.


Solar panels allow snow to dangerously slide off roofs, which has caused the deaths of many people.

Solar panels allow snow to dangerously slide off roofs, which has caused the deaths of many people.

Typhoon Roke is here

Typhoon Roke has finally made it here. It will pass directly over Nagoya and then Tokyo. The wind doesn’t seem as strong as the previous typhoon, Talas. Rain associated with Roke has caused flooding in Nagoya where authorities issued evacuation orders for 1 million of the 2 million residents of Nagoya. It sounds desperate, but it is not. Most of the residents Nagoya live in multi-story condominium buildings or multi-story apartments. Only householders near the Shonai River are indeed flooded. Affected areas are mainly Moriyama and Tempaku. NHK, the national broadcaster, showed pictures of city residents taking refuge in emergency shelters last night, ahead of additional or continued flooding, and ahead of the approach of the typhoon.

Yesterday many workers and students attending their first days of the new semester were stranded at train stations as underground services were flooded, or high risks due to the winds. The stranding of commuters was the probable cause of mobile phone services working only intermittently. Despite learning that stranded passengers in Tokyo was a huge problem after the March-eleven quake, Nagoya seemed unprepared.

Below are photos from Typhoon Talas. I’m not leaving my area until I’m sure that my home and neighbourhood is safe, then I might venture out. My area has a warning of high risk of storm surge causing inundation. My pictures, below, show the storm surge and tsunami protection, however, not all parts of the dyke is as strong and reinforced as those shown.

Disasters – Images by Andrew Blyth

Typhoon Roke

This is the latest typhoon on the list, and is expected to cause more damage than the previous one to hit mainland Japan: Talas. However, since many people were displaced by Typhoon Talas, there probably won’t be many more to be displaced in Roke.

Here is another piece that I wrote on Google+. If you want an invite to Google+, please ask.

NHK reported on the TV news just before 10pm that because of the rain from Typhoon Roke, the natural dams made by landslides from Typhoon Talas earlier this month, may burst as early as tonight. The affected areas in Wakayma and southern Mie prefectures were predicted to have up to 200 to 300mm of rain, but it was predicted that only 30mm (a little more than an inch) of rain is needed for some of them to overflow. Villages downstream should have already been evacuated and remain evacuated since Typhoon Talas. Since Talas all attempts to prevent the homes from being washed away, however, they will surely be lost tonight. The typhoon storm zone isn’t even over the Japan mainland yet, just the rain ahead of the typhoon is causing this damage.


Disasters – Images by Andrew Blyth

Slowest typhoon in history

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.