Typhoon Hagibis shuts down Tokyo

Surging waves generated by Typhoon Hagibis hitting a breakwater at a port in the town of Kiho, Mie prefecture, yesterday. The typhoon is expected to lash central Japan and Tokyo today, affecting transport and major sporting events such as the Rugby W
Surging waves generated by Typhoon Hagibis hitting a breakwater at a port in the town of Kiho, Mie prefecture, yesterday. The typhoon is expected to lash central Japan and Tokyo today, affecting transport and major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Transport networks, businesses brace themselves for expected record rainfall and violent winds

The world's largest metropolitan area will come to a virtual standstill today as it hunkers down for the assault of Typhoon Hagibis, which is expected to lash Tokyo with rains that it has never seen before.

The weatherman has urged the public to stay indoors and, if necessary, to evacuate as early as possible. The warning has been heeded by a largely anxious public that has bought up many supermarket and hardware store supplies such as groceries, bottled water, batteries and gas cylinders.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means "speed" in Tagalog, comes just one month after the devastating Typhoon Faxai struck the Greater Tokyo region. The impact was largely felt in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, where felled electricity lines left as many as 935,000 homes without power at one point.

The latest typhoon poses a much more potent threat, as record-breaking rainfall and violent winds are expected in a prolonged onslaught that has already begun.

Nearly 2,000 domestic and international flights will be grounded today, while all train services in the Greater Tokyo region will be halted by early this afternoon.

Shinkansen bullet train services across the country are also hit, including trains serving western cities like Osaka and Okayama.

The Tokyo Disney Resort has taken the rare move of closing all day, while companies from carmakers Honda, Nissan and Toyota to beer manufacturer Sapporo will shut down their factories.

Ubiquitous beef bowl chain Yoshinoya and department stores Isetan, Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya will shut all their outlets in the Tokyo metropolitan area today, as will many other malls and gyms.

Major convenience store chains have said they will leave the decision to shut to their franchisees, but 7-Eleven has estimated that 1,000 of its outlets will be closed.

Post and courier services like Japan Post and Yamato, as well as food delivery service Uber Eats, are likewise suspending operations.

 
 
 

A series of events, including two Rugby World Cup matches today, two Backstreet Boys concerts this weekend, and an Oktoberfest event in Yokohama, have been shelved.

The 19th typhoon this year is due to make landfall this evening, bringing 162kmh winds to central Japan and 144kmh winds to Tokyo.

Up to 500mm of rain has been forecast for Tokyo over a 24-hour period, said Mr Yasushi Kajihara, the director of the Japan Meteorological Agency's forecast division.

This is unprecedented, and will surpass the record 371.9mm precipitation Tokyo experienced in 1958 during Typhoon Ida, which caused mudslides and widespread flooding that killed 1,269 people.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2019, with the headline 'Typhoon Hagibis shuts down Tokyo'. Print Edition | Subscribe