Tropical storm Meari strikes Japan, thousands affected | 10 points

Published on Aug 13, 2022 02:50 PM IST

The word ‘Meari’ in Japanese means ‘a bud’ or ‘a sprout’. The significance behind naming the tropical storm Meari was that something is about to happen or that something is going to grow.

A man walks on the street in the heavy rain caused by Tropical Storm Meari in Hamamatsu, central Japan.(Photo by Kyodo via REUTERS)
A man walks on the street in the heavy rain caused by Tropical Storm Meari in Hamamatsu, central Japan.(Photo by Kyodo via REUTERS)
Written by Sharmita Kar | Edited by Swati Bhasin

A tropical storm - ‘Meari’ - unleashed itself onto Japan, bringing heavy rains on the main Honshu island Saturday, as it headed further northward towards capital city Tokyo, Japanese weather officials announced. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Tropical Storm Meari made a landfall in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, on Saturday afternoon, causing sudden downpour with blasting winds, prompting warnings about mudslides and flooding. The word ‘Meari’ in Japanese means ‘a bud’ or ‘a sprout’, signifying that something is about to happen or grow. Thousands of households in Shizuoka Prefecture have suffered power outages due to lightning strikes, local media reported, citing power firms. Meanwhile, flights and trains across the island have been cancelled, reports said. More than 72,000 people in the area's main city of Shizuoka were told to evacuate due to 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 northward at a speed of about 20 kilometers an hour before veering eastward. It is expected to swing over the Pacific Ocean by early Sunday. Authorities were quoted saying in reports that rainfall may subside by early Sunday in the Tokyo area, but it will hit northeastern Japan after that.

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

3. Authorities alerted citizens against going near rivers or other water bodies, as the levels may rise suddenly. Rainfall was expected to worsen in Tokyo and areas north of the city in the evening, they said. Warnings on flooding, strong winds and heavy rainfall were issued for 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. halted 23 flights.

5. Bullet train services were delayed, and speed limits in tunnels in Shizuoka were temporarily lowered as a cautionary measure. Sections of the Tomei Expressway, which connect Tokyo with Nagoya, were also blocked off temporarily due to the heavy rain.

6. Japanese media showed video of rivers rising perilously, nearly reaching bridge decks, as torrential rain accompanied by strong winds splashed down on homes. Videos showed people scurrying in the streets, clinging to their umbrellas and looking for shelter.

7. Meari is expected to cause at least 300 millimetres of rain in parts of central Honshu, the weather department said, possibly disrupting the country's "bon" holiday period when many Japanese people take trips to visit family.

8. The Rock in Japan Festival 2022, which began a week ago in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, was cancelled for Saturday, the final day of the outdoor event due to Meari. Organisers promised ticket refunds for all.

9. The world’s third largest economy has often seen devastating impacts of seasonal storms, leading to deaths and injuries, damage to properties because of torrential rainfall that break dams, blow off rooftops 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 shuttered factories as precautionary measures. The year before that, Japan faced Hagibis – one of the most powerful typhoons in decades – that ripped through the central and northeastern parts of the island nation, causing widespread floods and killing dozens of people.

(With agency inputs)

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