TOKYO • A powerful typhoon was churning towards Japan yesterday, prompting the weather agency to warn of heavy rain and strong winds and forcing airlines to cancel scores of flights.
Typhoon Shanshan was expected to be less than 150km from Tokyo around midnight yesterday, sparking fears it could disrupt the busy morning commute in the capital today.
The typhoon is coming "very close to the Pacific coast" of eastern Japan, centring on Tokyo, and is expected to move towards northern provinces from late yesterday and early today, the meteorological agency said.
"There are also risks that it may make landfall," it said, warning it could dump 350mm of rain over the greater Tokyo region by noon today.
"Please be fully on alert against mudslides, flooding in low-lying areas, flooding of rivers, violent winds, high waves and high tides," the agency said in a statement, urging residents to obey any evacuation instructions.
In the Chiba region east of Tokyo, officials issued their lowest-level evacuation warning for some residents and urged others to be on standby.
With rain and winds expected to intensify later yesterday, television networks urged Tokyo workers to go home early.
Airlines cancelled scores of domestic and international flights to and from Tokyo's Haneda Airport and the main Narita Airport east of the capital. The ANA group scrapped 36 domestic and international flights from Narita to Shanghai and Hong Kong.
After pounding the area near Tokyo, the typhoon, packing maximum gusts of 180km per hour, is expected to rake the north-eastern part of Honshu before weakening to tropical storm strength and heading out into the Pacific.
Tropical cyclones are common throughout the summer months in Japan. Shanshan would be the second to make landfall this year, after Jongdari struck last month.
Typhoon Wipha in 2013 was the strongest to approach the Kanto region in recent years, killing 40.
Shanshan is the latest weather front to batter Japan, which has been sweating through a record and deadly heatwave.
The heatwave brought the hottest July on record to much of the country, with the mercury hitting a record 41.1 deg C in one city about 90 minutes from Tokyo. The heat has been severe, killing more than 100 and hospitalising tens of thousands due to heatstroke.
This followed devastating heavy rain in the central and western parts of the country last month.
The record rainfall caused flooding and landslides that killed over 200 people and devastated swathes of the country, with transportation links in many areas yet to recover.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG, REUTERS