Asia Life

Japan Battered by Tornadoes and a Typhoon

A series of tornadoes and a typhoon have hit Japan, resulting in injuries and damage to buildings.

Jonathan DeHart

This week Japan has proven that tornadoes are not only a problem for the American Midwest. Following a summer plagued by record temperatures and typhoons across Asia, things took a strange turn in Japan’s weather this week when a number of tornadoes (tatsumaki in Japanese) ripped through swathes of the main island of Honshu. In total, thousands of homes and dozens have been injured by the wave of cyclones.

“In flatter parts of the region particularly, warm, wet air can come inland and spark tornadoes,” a Japanese meteorologist told AFP, as reported by Global Post.

On Monday, tornadoes swept through the city of Koshigaya in Saitama prefecture to Noda in Chiba prefecture, injuring more than 60 people and damaging hundreds of homes. According to AFP, an entire warehouse was picked up and crashed into surrounding buildings in Koshigaya. Further, 30,000 people lost electricity in Saitama, Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

Yesterday, twisters wreaked havoc in the cities of Kanuma and Yaita in Tochigi prefecture, in the northern part of the Kanto region, roofs were shredded and windows shattered. Two men were injured in Kanuma, while in Yaita trees were blown over, damaging dozens of parked cars.

“The roof of a school gymnasium was torn off, and the power supply is cut off. Traffic lights are not working either,” a city official from Yaita told AFP. Some 600 households lost power for about three hours in the city.

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Photos reveal a dark funnel extending from the sky and stirring up debris on the ground, as well as toppled buildings, fallen power lines and overturned cars. A video of children frightened by a tornado – who can be heard screaming as it passes in front of their schoolroom windows can be seen here.

Eastern Japan is not alone. Yesterday, Typhoon Toraji also struck Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. The storm dissipated to an extratropical cyclone near the island of Shikoku as it chugged along at 30 kilometers per hour. Warnings for landslides and flooding in southern Kyushu were issued, with estimates suggesting that 300 mm of rainfall inundating parts of the island as of Thursday morning. Trains were brought to a standstill, while expressways were closed. The city of Kagoshima suffered blackouts.

Meanwhile, in the central region of Honshu a junior high school girl went missing in Gifu prefecture town of Seki, with police fearing that she may have been swept away by the currents of the swelling Fujiya River. The towns of Ogaki and Kaizu in Gifu were ordered to evacuate, along with those living in Kita Ward, Nagoya. Rain fell in profuse sheets in Ogaki and Nagoya, respectively reaching 108.5 mm and 109.0 mm in an hour.

Residents will be hoping the meteorological beating is over soon.