The most powerful typhoon in decades to be on course to hit Tokyo is expected to rake the coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu this weekend, bringing strong winds and up to 2 feet of rain.
Super Typhoon Hagibis has strengthened to a Category 5 storm and although it’s expected to weaken to Category 4 before making landfall, it would still bring extremely rough seas and winds up to 135 mph to the region.
Officials in Japan have already cancelled more than 900 flights and rail operators warned of major disruptions due to the storm, according to Japan Times.
All Nippon Airways, or ANA, grounded all domestic flights coming in and out of Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports on Saturday. Central Japan Railway Co. will cancel nearly all Shinkansen “bullet train” services between the capital and Osaka.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet is expected to hold a disaster management meeting on Friday.
The Rugby World Cup – being played in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan – and other events were also canceled for Saturday, The Associated Press said.
The Japan Meteorological Agency says the typhoon could bring record rainfall and winds. Residents of the areas likely to be affected are being warned of high waves and storm surge.
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, JMA’s forecast chief, Yasushi Kajihara, said Hagibis resembled a typhoon that hit Tokyo in 1958 that flooded hundreds of thousands of homes and left 1,200 people dead.
He warned residents in the threatened areas “to protect your own life and your loved ones, please try to start evacuating early before it gets dark and the storm becomes powerful.”
Hagibis, which means “speed” in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines, arrives in Japan just a month after Typhoon Faxai hit the Tokyo region, leaving at least two dead, hundreds of thousands without power and damaging or destroying some 30,000 homes.
According to Reuters, people in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, which was also badly hit by Faxai, have been told to stock up on food and water in preparation for the storm.