Winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour and rainfall above 72 centimeters of water. It is the menacing canvas facing Japan before the imminent arrival of Typhoon Hag ibis, one of the most powerful in recent decades. Its strength, created after more than two weeks furrowing the tropical latitudes of the Pacific, is unparalleled in the country’s recent history, not even a month after another typhoon, the Faxai, took over 30,000 homes in the prefecture. from Chiba. The Hag ibis storm only finds precedent in a remote and brutal typhoon of 1958, when more than 1,200 people lost their lives in its wake. Don’t forget that the best rain poncho is a very useful thing.
Paralysis. Nature has conspired against Japan. Hag ibis (“speed” in Tagalog, Filipino language) is heading to the same point that struck Faxai a few weeks ago: Greater Tokyo and its surroundings, an urban agglomeration of more than forty million souls. It is expected to touch land tomorrow afternoon. Nippon Airlines has canceled all its flights for this weekend; the Formula 1 Grand Prix has postponed the qualifying rounds, to be held on Saturday, for the following day; Rugby World Cup and notes with dismay the heavens at the gates of the quarterfinals, after having already canceled two games.
The trains will stop working. Entire slums have had to be evacuated. Supermarkets will lower the blinds. Disneyland will stop working. Japan has entered paralysis mode.
Brutality. It is not for less. Hag ibis is the most powerful storm of all those that have developed during this year, one especially prone to the development of typhoons. Earlier this week the Japanese weather service raised the category of the storm to level five. Hag ibis, officially a “super typhoon”, has been able to generate winds of up to 260 kilometers per hour for a minute as it passes through the Mariana Islands. While its impact on Chiba is expected to be less dramatic, the government has already warned of wind gusts and record rainfall in the recent history of Japan.
The streets will flood. The sea will overcome the breakwaters. Thousands of houses will probably fly through the air.
Precedent. The threat is such that Japan has had to dig through history books to find a storm that matches Hag ibis. This is Ida (Kagonawa in Japanese), whose fiercest winds exceeded 325 kilometers per hour for one minute. More than 1,200 people died and caused damage equivalent to $439 million (adjusted for inflation). On that occasion, Shizuoka Prefecture took the worst part. The typhoon overflowed the Kano, Merugo and Arakawa rivers, causing more than 1,900 landslides; so much water fell that 48,000 hectares cultivated with rice were flooded, and about 32 ships were lost forever on the Pacific coast.
Ida flooded half a million homes, leaving 12,000 people homeless. Tokyo was paralyzed, and the Izu Peninsula razed. Infrastructures also suffered, with about 240 bridges destroyed.
Mortandad. Naturally, the conditions today are different. Japan, a nation accustomed to dealing with natural disasters of all kinds (earthquakes, tsunamis, tsunamis, typhoons, volcanoes, etc.) is today more prepared to cushion the impact of a super typhoon that seventy years ago. Some of the deadliest typhoons in its history (Ruth, Marie, Vera ) were recorded in the fifties, not by chance. Nevertheless, millions of people will be left without power during this weekend, and several experts have recommended immediate evacuation to the residents of Chiba.
The problem of Hagidis is not so much its intensity, wild as it is, but the failing effects of Faxai. Japan will suffer two tropical storms of extraordinary hardness within a few weeks. And without having recovered from the first, he faces the second, much more powerful.