Tropical storm Meari strikes Japan, thousands affected | 10 points | World News

A tropical storm, ‘Meari’, was unleashed in Japan, bringing heavy rain to the main island of Honshu on Saturday as it headed further north towards the capital Tokyo, Japanese weather authorities announced. Tropical Storm Meari made landfall in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, on Saturday afternoon, bringing a sudden downpour with strong winds and prompting warnings of landslides and flooding, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The word “Meari” in Japanese means “a sprout” or “a bud”, which means that something is about to happen or grow. Thousands of homes in Shizuoka Prefecture have experienced power outages due to lightning strikes, local media reported, citing power companies. Meanwhile, flights and trains across the island have reportedly been cancelled. More than 72,000 people in the area’s main city of Shizuoka were ordered to evacuate because of possible landslides.

Here’s what we know so far:

1. Meari crossed Shizuoka with winds of up to 72 kilometers per hour, and was traveling north at a speed of about 20 kilometers per hour before turning east. It is expected to oscillate over the Pacific Ocean early Sunday. Authorities said in reports that the rain could taper off early Sunday in the Tokyo area, but then reach northeast Japan.

2. Tokyo, the capital, and its surroundings were hit by periodic downpours. Weather agencies and disaster relief forces issued warnings of high waves in coastal areas of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest Tokyo and other nearby areas.

3. Authorities warned citizens not to go near rivers or other bodies of water, as levels may rise suddenly. The rain was expected to worsen in Tokyo and northern areas of the city in the evening, they said. Warnings were issued for flooding, strong winds and heavy rain in the Tokyo area.

4. All Nippon Airways canceled at least 10 domestic flights, while low-cost carrier Skymark Airlines also canceled some flights. Japan Airlines Co. stopped 23 flights.

5. Bullet train services were delayed and speed limits in Shizuoka tunnels were temporarily reduced as a precautionary measure. Sections of the Tomei Expressway, which connects Tokyo to Nagoya, were also temporarily closed due to heavy rain.

6. Japanese media showed video of rivers rising dangerously high, almost reaching bridge decks, while torrential rain accompanied by strong winds splashed houses. Videos showed people running through the streets, clutching their umbrellas and seeking shelter.

7. Meari is expected to bring at least 300 millimeters of rain to parts of central Honshu, the weather department said, possibly disrupting the country’s “good” holiday period, when many Japanese make trips to visit family.

8. The 2022 Rock in Japan Festival, which began a week ago in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, was canceled for Saturday, the last day of the outdoor event in cause of Meari. The organizers promised to refund the tickets for everyone.

9. The world’s third-largest economy has often suffered devastating impacts from seasonal storms, resulting in deaths and injuries, property damage from torrential rains that breach dams, destroy roofs and bring down power lines.

10. In 2020, hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate in southern Japan due to Typhoon Haishen. Companies temporarily shut down factories as a precautionary measure. The previous year, Japan faced Hagibis, one of the most powerful typhoons in decades, which swept through the center and northeast of the island nation, causing widespread flooding and killing dozens of people.

(With input from the agency)

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