A typhoon that was projected to intensify rapidly has done just that, and is now a looming threat to people who live in Japan this weekend. Typhoon Phanfone strengthened from a Category 1 equivalent typhoon to a Category 4 equivalent on Thursday evening and this system jumped about 55 mph in only 24 hours. When referring to typhoon, it is the same thing as a hurricane. A typhoon, hurricane, cyclone, etc. are all the same anomaly but different names are used in different parts of the world.
This system will stay in a environment that is favorable for more development, which includes a low wind shear and high sea-surface temperatures. The Japan Meteorological Agency shows that Phanfone will curve northwestward and northward over the next couple of days. What will this mean for Japanese residents? It means that this system would hit the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, the two main north-south chains of small islands that is south of the mainland.
Typhoon Phanfone may soon reach the western edge of an area of higher pressure, which in layman’s terms just means that this system will become post-tropical throughout the process. The question now is exactly how, and when, this system will take a sharp turn.
If this area of high pressure stays where it’s at for a little bit longer, Phanfone may not curve north and northeast so quickly. If this area of high pressure does not stay where it is currently located, it could mean that the system will take a more southward dip and will cause a sharper, and sooner re-curvature of Phanfone. It is usually the tendency for tropical cyclones to complicate their line of tracking, and this system may end up tracking a bit farther south and west than some of the models are forecasting. Here are some of the scenarios that could result from these complications:
First, the typhoon could curve sharply which will mean that it will pass the mainland and just barely provide the country with high waves and a small amount of rain.
Next, if Phanfone curves north a little later, which means that it is too late to miss Japan, it will slam into the heavily populated areas of central and eastern Japan. This will include Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kobe. All together, these regions combined reach a population of 85 million people.
The last possibility is that the system waits too long to recurve, which means that it will take it more towards Okinawa before hitting the mainland. It would start with the island of Kyushu and western parts of Honshu before dumping torrential rains across Japan’s major cities.
Even if the center of this typhoon does in fact pass over the south and misses the mainland, there is still a rising threat of heavy rainfall accompanying this system.
Some of the areas that are in Phanfone’s current path have already seen historic rainfall amounts from the Tropical Storm Nakri and Typhoon Halong in August. The city of Kochi had recorded over 61 inches of rain in August alone, and it is one of the wettest months on record since they began in 1886. Another rural area named Shigeto in the mountainous region of Kochi picked up 94.41 inches of rain, which boldly crushes the previous all time record for any calendar month by nearly 40 inches.