Extreme Weather: Typhoon Vongfong in Tokyo

5:30 am Tuesday Tokyo time and all is quiet around here. The cicadas are chirping away again, and a pair of chickadees are having a domestic dispute in the bushes outside my open study window. Despite Vongfong being described as the worst storm so far this typhoon season, and some real damage, injuries, and home evacuations in other parts of Japan, Vongfong seems to have been little more than a heavy rain storm here in the Big Sushi.

Today’s weather forecast calls for partly cloudy and a high of 26 degrees Celsius. Back to business…

I’d write more, but I expect trains are running and I have to get to school…


Extreme Weather: Typhoon Phanfone Reaches Tokyo (Monday Morning)

(Update: here in Nishi Tokyo, the storm peaked around 10:30am with a few hair-raising, house-shaking gusts of rain and wind, but by 11:30 all was quiet and the sun starting to come out. I went out to forage among the wreckage and fight tooth and claw with other scavengers for… buy garlic consomme bread bread for lunch. Seriously, R. made it safely to work in Ginza, and I haven’t yet heard of any real damage or injuries from other parts of Tokyo. looks like Tokyo’s luck held strong through yet another potential catastrophe…)

… and then, right around 10:30am, the rain started to rage and the wind to kick up. Not sure how strong the gusts are, but for now I’ve still got the door from my study to the driveway open.

Extreme Weather: Typhoon Phanfone

(Update: 9am, and this should be the worst of it. Heavy rain conitnues, but none of the damaging winds we were led to expect. Trains are running with some delays; R. has gone to work. I’m at the computer, awaiting any calls from students who have questions on the assignments posted to the class Moodle pages.)

5 am and Typhoon Phanfone is still little more than a persistent rain here in Tokyo. However, the worst of it is yet to come: Phanfone’s touchdown is expected later this morning, around 9 am.

According to Dr. Jeff Masters’ blog on Weather Underground, the typhoon is weakening rapidly, and may be no more than a Category 1 storm by the time it does arrive in Tokyo. However, according to The Weather Channel website, The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is anticipating sustained winds of 80 mph with gusts to 115 mph at the time it reaches us, which would make it the strongest wind on record (the sustained wind record is 69.3 mph, recorded in a typhoon on Sept. 1, 1938; the strongest wind gust is 104.5 mph, recorded the same day.)

Apparently warnings have also been issued for local tornados. I’ve heard some sustained thunder — apparently a warning sign for tornadoes — but so far nothing more than that.

Update: The Headmistress has just closed school for the day. Looks like I’ll be teaching virtual classes from home!

Trains, as of 6 am, are mostly running on time according to this timetable.

Let’s see what 9 am brings!

Extreme Weather Update: Francisco likely down to tropical storm as it makes landfall on mainland Japan

Typhhon Francisco will largely miss mainland Japan on Thursday, according to last night’s (Tuesday night’s) report on http://www.westernpacificweather.com. The wind strength is less of a threat, but apparently we can expect heavy rains,  with possible flooding in low-lying parts of Tokyo.

Looks like it’s 50/50 as to whether our students will get to do their -bon dance at our school’s Japan Day Festival this Friday!

BTW, for anyone wondering about Typhoon Lekima, according to everything I’ve seen it’s already tracking west, away from Japan, with no expectation of landfall.

Updated Extreme Weather: Typhoon Francisco Downgraded

The previous post on Super Typhoon Francisco generated a lot of hits here at Big Sushi, Little Fishes, which makes me think (though I hope this is not true) that some people may be relying on this blog for updates on an issue which, for some, has pressing personal interest while for others is a virtual form of storm chasing. For the record, I’m somewhere between the two but trending toward the former since I actually do live in Tokyo where Typhoon Francisco, like Typhoon Wipha before her, and all of their brethren seem to end up – albeit in diminished form.

Over at wunderground.com, source of the typhoon tracking map I’ve used previously, Dr. Jeff Masters is apparently “co-founder and director of meteorology  at Weather Underground“. In any case, he has a “Dr.” in front of his name and some impressive looking digital imagery of weather systems on his site, so I’m gonna go with him on this when he blogged Monday GMT “that Category 2 Typhoon Francisco has steadily weakened on Sunday and Monday, after spending just over a day as Earth’s third Category 5 storm of 2013 on Saturday.” Does this mean we here in Japan are free and clear? Not quite: “Francisco’s interaction with a cold front over Japan during this process will bring very heavy rains to Japan, and these rains will pose a serious flooding threat, as the soils have not had a chance to dry out much from the record rains that Typhoon Wipha brought last week.”

So, better news but not the best. But if you wanna see something really scary, scroll down on Dr. masters’ blog to see a report on Harbin, China’s bad-air day, when air pollution levels reached 400 times the WHO’s “Safe” level (25 micrograms; Harbin’s air on October 21st reached 1,000 micrograms). Watch the embedded video and follow the links on Masters’ blog to more images.

Extreme Weather: Super Typhoon Francisco (Here We Go Again?!?)

Shaping up to be a busy typhoon season here…

Typhoon Wipha hit us last week. It generally spared western Tokyo where I live, but forced some residents of Chiba, southeast of Tokyo, to evacuate, and hit the island of Oshima hard.

This week Super Typhoon Francisco menaces from the southern Pacific. According to this five-day forecast from the Weather Underground website, Francisco could reach us here in Tokyo by mid-afternoon Thursday in the form of a Category 1 typhoon – around the same strength as Typhoon Wipha when it made landfall in Tokyo last Wednesday.

Hmn… my school has its annual Japan Day festival planned for Friday…

Typhoon Roke

Meters away, Typhhon Roke huffs and puffs and threatens to blow our house down. For the moment, however, I am content to sit inside our little bento box apartment and watch the rain streak across the balcony door. We’ve weathered bad storms here before. This building flexes and and shakes like a ship at sea, but it hasn’t failed us yet. There’s something to learn in the wisdom of cheap building materials: sometimes it’s better to roll with the blows than to resist…