Sweltering Tokyo braces for approach of typhoon Shanshan

Pedestrians walking during a heatwave in Tokyo, where Typhoon Shanshan is set to bring strong winds and heavy rains later this week.
Pedestrians walking during a heatwave in Tokyo, where Typhoon Shanshan is set to bring strong winds and heavy rains later this week. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Typhoon Shanshan is set to approach the Tokyo area later this week, bringing strong winds and heavy rains to a region suffering from a heatwave.

Shanshan, the 13th tropical storm of the season, is projected to track over the next two days towards the the Kanto area, where Tokyo is located. If the storm continues on its current path, it's likely to disrupt Tokyo commuters midweek and bring heavy rains as soon as Tuesday (Aug 7).

The Japan Meteorological Agency's current five-day projection indicates the typhoon could make landfall near Tokyo, and has the typhoon then turning northeast. The centre of Shanshan is about 1,150 kilometres southeast of Tokyo, moving north-northwest at 20 kph.

The storm has sustained wind speeds of 126 kilometres per hour, which are expected to increase to 144 kph as it approaches Japan. That makes it a "strong" typhoon, the second-weakest on the JMA's four-point scale, or the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

If Shanshan stays on track, it will become the latest bout of extreme weather to beset Japan. A heatwave has brought the hottest July on record to much of the country, with the mercury hitting a record 41.1 degrees Celsius in a city near Tokyo late last month.

The heat has killed more than 100 and led to the hospitalisation of tens of thousands from heatstroke.

Earlier in the month, record rains in western Japan killed more than 200 people, with transportation links in many areas yet to recover.

Tropical cyclones are common throughout the summer in Japan. Typhoon Jongdari was the first to make landfall this year, with damage limited despite passing over the areas already hit by record flooding. Typhoon Wipha in 2013 was the strongest storm to approach the Kanto region in recent years, killing 40.