Typhoon Hagibis: Over 1,000 flights cancelled as Tokyo braces for possibly heaviest rain in 60 years

Local authorities are also on alert for possible flooding as the storm may coincide with high tide at Tokyo bay.
Local authorities are also on alert for possible flooding as the storm may coincide with high tide at Tokyo bay.PHOTO: NYTIMES

TOKYO (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - A powerful storm approached Japan on Friday (Oct 11), threatening to batter its capital with the heaviest rain in 60 years, disrupting a Formula One Grand Prix and rugby’s World Cup and raising fears of transport chaos.  

More than 1,000 flights have been cancelled and train services were set to be halted across Tokyo.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, is currently located south of Tokyo and packing winds of up to 252km (157 miles) per hour, and could make landfall in central or eastern Japan around Tokyo on Saturday.

It comes a month after Typhoon Faxai, one of the strongest typhoons to hit Japan in recent years, destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses and caused extensive power cuts.

“The typhoon could bring record-level rainfall and winds,” an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency told a news conference.

The storm could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958 and people should also prepare for high waves and storm surges, the JMA said.  

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested his Cabinet to take all measures to prepare for the typhoon, Kyodo News reported.

Officials in the Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo, which was hit hard by Typhoon Faxai a month ago, have told people to prepare supplies of food and water for up to three days.  

Japanese Formula One Grand Prix organisers cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday, adding that the qualifying round would be held on Sunday, before the final race takes place as planned.  

 
 
 

The approaching super typhoon has already forced the cancellation of two matches of the rugby World Cup on Saturday, while a Sunday match between host Japan and Scotland is in doubt.

Airline ANA Holdings cancelled all domestic flights to and from Tokyo’s two main airports from Friday afternoon.

It and rival Japan Airlines Co cancelled some flights to and from airports servicing the major cities of Osaka and Nagoya.  

Most flights operating to and from those airports would be cancelled on Saturday, both airlines said on their websites.  

Train services, including Shinkansen bullet trains, are likely to be cancelled over the weekend, operators have said.

Here's how the storm is impacting the country so far:

AIRLINES

- Japan Airlines Co. cancelled 18 routes on Friday, 513 domestic and 72 international flights on Saturday.

- ANA Holdings Inc. cancelled all its roughly 490 domestic flights to and from Tokyo airports on Saturday, as well as 112 international flights

- At least 10 flights between Singapore and Japan have been retimed and two cancelled.

TRAINS

- East Japan Railway Co. will suspend most lines serving central Tokyo from noon on Saturday, and plans to halt the Yamanote line, which runs in the center of the city, from 1pm.

- West Japan Railway Co. cancelled its bullet train services on Saturday and Central Japan Railway Co. said it’s halting all bullet train services between Tokyo and Osaka on Saturday and will also suspend Nagoya and Osaka except for six early-morning trains.

- Tokyo Metro Co. will stop some services from 1pm Saturday, NHK reported

FACTORIES

Nippon Steel Corp. to halt production at its Kimitsu factory in Chiba prefecture, broadcaster NHK reports.

RETAIL

- Ito-Yokado, operated by Seven & i Holdings Co., will close over 120 stores on Saturday.

- Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. will shut its six department stores in the Tokyo area on Saturday

RUGBY

- Rugby World Cup games pitting England against France and New Zealand against Italy have been called off, meaning both matches will be considered scoreless draws.

- A final decision on Sunday's games, including a crucial match between hosts Japan and Scotland, will be made that morning.

FORMULA ONE

- Organisers of Japan’s Formula One Grand Prix have cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday.

- Originally scheduled to take place at 3pm local time (0600 GMT) on Saturday, the hour-long qualifying session that decides the grid order for the race will now be held at 10am on Sunday, according to a revised schedule issued by organisers.  

- The final practice session, which would normally take place before qualifying, will not be held. The race will go ahead as planned at 2.10pm on Sunday.