Millions of people in Japan are bracing for the approach of Typhoon Wipha and the expected destructive winds, life-threatening flooding and mudslides. Although Wipha has weakened during the past 24 hours due to interaction with a front to the north, the cyclone remains a dangerous typhoon as it approaches the eastern coastline of Japan.
The cold front mentioned above will continue to direct Wipha northeastward on Tuesday night and Wednesday bringing the center of the storm very close to the coast near Tokyo. The greatest area of concern extends across eastern Honshu, including the greater Tokyo area, home to more than 35 million people.
What is not talked about is that the current track of Wipha takes it right past TEPCO’s Fukishima reactors. In addition to the damaging winds and maybe even a greater concern is the tremendous amount of rainfall expected in that area, up to 250mm. This could prove disastrous in managing the current retention ponds of radioactive wastewaters.
Heavy rainfall has already overspread eastern Japan in advance of the storm. Rainfall totals between 150-250 mm (6-10 inches) are expected through midday on Wednesday with isolated amounts over 300 mm (12 inches) before rainfall comes to an end from south to north. Oshima, south of Tokyo has already received more than 558 mm (22 inches) of rain.
The strongest wind gusts are expected to surpass 120 kph (75 mph) during the peak of the storm. Winds of this magnitude can lead to downed trees, widespread power outages and structural damage.
Heavy rainfall will also target the higher terrain of inland Japan. The amount of rain falling on Tuesday night and Wednesday will be significant, enough to cause widespread flooding in addition to the threat for mudslides.