Extremely heavy rainfall hits Japan, 398 mm (15.6 inches) within 4 hours

Extremely heavy rainfall hits Japan, 398 mm (15.6 inches) within 4 hours

As of 10:30 JST (01:30 UTC) Thursday, July 6, 2017, about 450 000 people across western Japan were ordered to evacuate their homes and seek shelter, after extremely heavy rains started early Wednesday, July 6, causing major floods and landslides. As of late Wednesday afternoon (local time), at least one person has been killed and 6 were still missing, believed to be buried under mud or swept away by raging rivers. By Thursday morning, the death toll rose to 2 and the number of missing to 18. Parts of Fukuoka Prefecture saw 398 mm (15.6 inches) of rain within just 4 hours on Wednesday, more than the region usually receives during the entire month of July. Heavy rain is expected to continue at least until Thursday night. 

  • The Japan Meteorological Agency urged “utmost vigilance” in Fukuoka and Oita, saying a once-in-decades disaster is possible as atmospheric conditions remain unstable.
  • The amount of rain in the region has broken all records and continues to fall.

The JMAissued top-level severe weather warning for parts of western Japan Wednesday, as a seasonal rain front brought in wet air from the East China Sea, causing a strip of storm clouds to develop. Heavy rain, flood and landslide warnings have been issued for Kyushu prefectures of Fukuoka, especially the city of Fukuoka, Oita, Kumamoto and Saga prefectures as well as Hiroshima and Shimane prefectures, further north.

According to data provided by the JMA, about 110 mm (4.3 inches) of rain fell in just 1 hour in the vicinity of Ukiha City, Fukuoka Prefecture, and in the vicinity of Nakatsu River in Hita City, Oita Prefecture. 120 mm (4.7 inches) and more was measured within 1 hour around Asakura City, in Kurume, and Higashimine village in Fukuoka Prefecture. The same amount was measured in the vicinity of Tosu City, Saga Prefecture.

JMA's weather station located in Kurokawa, Asakura City measured 398 mm (15.6 inches) of rain within just 4 hours. This is more rain than this regions sees during the entire month of July.

Flooding was reported at two rivers in Asakura and at least one bridge has reportedly been lost. Residents in one community have been isolated as rivers overflowed, the Asakura city government said, as reported by Japan Today.

Some 23 000 residents of Asakura had been ordered to evacuate and another 13 000 in Kurume, also in Fukuoka.

Six people are feared to have been buried in mud or swept away by swollen rivers in the cities of Asakura and Uki.

More than 60 000 residents of Hiroshima and Shimane prefectures were also advised to evacuate. A body of one elderly man's was found in a river in Hiroshima. Authorities believe he was swept away as the river level suddenly rose. 

“Shimane is seeing really heavy rain like it has never seen before,” a JMA official said at a news conference held at 07:00 JST, Wednesday. “This is an extraordinary situation in which serious crises are approaching. Some disasters, such as landslides and floods, may already be occurring.”

The rain caused some schools in Shimane to cancel classes Wednesday and disrupted some train services in the two prefectures.

JMA warned the region is expected to see more heavy rain over the next 24 hours. Until the evening of July 6 (JST), 200 mm (7.9 inches) of additional rainfall is expected in Fukuoka, Oita and Saga prefectures while Kumamoto might see up to 150 mm (5.9 inches).

Updates

July 6, 10:08 UTC

As of 10:30 JST (01:30 UTC) on July 6, about 450 000 people (close to 186 000 homes) were ordered to evacuate. 2 people have been killed and at least 18 others are missing.

The JMA urged “utmost vigilance” in Fukuoka and Oita, saying a once-in-decades disaster is possible as atmospheric conditions remain unstable.

JMA said parts of Fukuoka Prefecture received 774 mm (30.4 inches) of rain within 9 hours on Wednesday. This is more than two times the region gets during the entire month of July.

Featured image: Extremely heavy rain hits western Japan, causing major floods - July 5, 2017. Credit: ODN

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