Typhoon Wipha Approaches Japan and Fukushima PlantBy: Brian Powell - October 15, 2013
This past weekend, Typhoon Wipha was rated as a Category 4 hurricane due to its intense wind-speeds (Anywhere from 130-156 mph). Luckily for Japan and surrounding countries, the typhoon has been downgraded as it approaches the Japanese coastline.
Current estimates say that Typhoon Wipha will reach Tokyo during the Wednesday morning rush-hour. A spokesman for the Japan Meteorological Agency has stated that the storm is a “once in a decade event”, being the strongest such storm since Typhoon Tokage in October of 2004.
As of now, Typhoon Wipha has been downgraded all the way to a Category 1 hurricane. It is currently carrying winds around 90 mph. By the time it reaches Japan, the winds are estimated to be 75 mph at the center, and 57.5 mph winds up to 130 miles left of center. Japan will be very close to the 30 mile-wide center and will see some of the strongest winds.
The biggest concern from the storm is the amount of rain it will bring to the area. Typhoon Wipha will be hitting Japan at the same time as a strong cold-front, transitioning the storm from a tropical system into an extratropical system, meaning that the storms wind and rain will expand to cover a larger area. Today, reports stated that Tokyo was seeing 1-2″ of rain per hour. This amount is expected to increase as the storm moves closer, with estimates that most of Japan will receive between 3-8″ of rain.
Perhaps the biggest problem posed by the typhoon will be its impact on the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Since the plant was nearly destroyed in the 2011 earthquake/tsunami, the Tokyo Electric Power Corp has had a difficult time attempting to repair the damage. The company is still struggling to secure leaks in tanks holding radioactive water produced through cooling efforts. Tokyo Electric Power Corp has cancelled all off-shore operations to ensure that it has enough help on hand to pump built-up rainwater into empty tanks to check for radioactivity. The water will be released to sea if no radioactivity is detected.
Japan’s transportation systems have also been drastically impacted by the typhoon. Japan Airlines cancelled 183 flights Tuesday, and rival ANA Holdings, Inc. cancelled 210 more. These cancellations affected 60,000+ travelers. Japan has also had to cancel 31 bullet-train trips.
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