Hagibis: A Literally ‘Rapid’ Destruction of Japan

Mount Fuji, Japan

If we won’t respect the environment and will continue to exploit it, somehow it will come back to haunt us. Such a thing happened when, Japan was hit by the major typhoon this year, typhoon Hagibis. 


Typhoon Hagibis was a large and powerful tropical cyclone that was considered to be the most devastating typhoon to hit the Kantō region of Japan since Ida in 1958. Hagibis caused additional impacts to Japan after Faxai struck the same region one month prior. 

Lead up to Hagibis

The nineteenth named storm and the ninth typhoon of the 2019 Pacific typhoon season, Hagibis developed from a tropical wave located a couple hundred miles north of the Marshall Islands on 2 October. The system reached tropical storm status late on 5 October as it travelled westward. Soon afterwards, Hagibis underwent a period of rapid intensification, which brought Hagibis to its peak intensity on 7 October. After maintaining the peak intensity for about three days, Hagibis began to weaken due to a less favourable environment. On 12 October, Hagibis made landfall at the Izu Peninsula as a Category 2–equivalent typhoon. Hagibis became extra-tropical on the following day.

Japan had suffered from a 5.7 magnitude earthquake just 30 minutes before the typhoon had arrived. Japan was still recovering from the earthquake and it was struck by a typhoon, which made the condition in Japan even more devastating. Early morning on the 12th of October, a tornado was triggered in Ichihara City by the typhoon.

The storm made landfall Saturday as it made a turn from moving north-northwestward to the northeast. It then crossed directly over the capital city of 9.3 million and swirled northward, with 8.23 inches of rain falling in Tokyo itself and more than three feet in higher elevations to the west of the city. Sustained winds at hurricane force affected downtown Tokyo, with a gust of 98 mph recorded at Haneda Airport.

Impact on Japan

The warning had been issued for towns and cities in 12 prefectures including areas in Tochigi, Ibaragi, Fukushima, Miyagi, and NIigat. Also, evacuation advisories had been issued throughout much of the Tokyo region, affecting tens of millions of people. The Japanese capital was in a lockdown, with usually busy streets abandoned amid torrential rain. At least eight prefectures had ordered evacuations totalling 936,113 people, the FDMA said, and 292,770 households had become without power, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Chub Electric Power Company.

The typhoon caused a total of 48 landslides in 12 prefectures, the government said. Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Tokyo, said: "There are still alerts in place for some coastal areas because the rivers are swollen, they have burst their banks in some places and also the reservoirs are very full."So the authorities have given the green light for some of those dams to release water, meaning there is an ongoing danger for some communities living downstream from those dams." About 800 flights were cancelled on Sunday following the cancellation of more than 1,600 flights on the previous day, while many train services in the Tokyo region remained suspended. 

Reason for heavy destruction

One reason the storm caused such severe impacts is that the inner core of the typhoon, with its heaviest rains and highest winds, remained intact as it swept across Tokyo and dumped heavy rains across northeastern Japan as well. According to reporting from The Washington Post’s Simon Denyer, by Sunday, more than 20 rivers in central and northeastern Japan had burst their banks, flooding more than 1,000 homes in cities, towns, and villages. Frequently, typhoons affect the southwestern reaches of Japan first and weaken to windswept rainstorms by the time they hit Tokyo. However, Typhoon Hagibis didn’t travel overland for a long distance and therefore was more damaging.

Rescue Operations

More than 100,000 rescuers - including 31,000 troops - clawed their way through the waste scattered around them, from Sunday night into Monday morning to reach people trapped by the floods or whose homes had been buried. Military and fire department helicopters winched survivors from roofs and balconies in several locations, but in Fukushima, one rescue went tragically awry when a woman died after falling from the cradle. Elsewhere, rescue workers carried out an hour-long boat operation to evacuate hundreds of people from a retirement home in Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, which was flooded up to its top floor.


Climate studies suggest the Japanese archipelago could see more frequent and stronger typhoons in the future, due in large part to warming seas as a result of human-caused global warming. There is evidence showing tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific Ocean Basin are reaching their maximum intensities farther north than they used to, a trend some scientists attribute in part to climate change. This could send more intense storms into areas that typically see weaker storms, such as Honshu and other parts of northern and northeastern Japan.

Written by - Shreyati Garg

Edited by - Purav Nayak

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Hagibis: A Literally ‘Rapid’ Destruction of Japan Hagibis: A Literally ‘Rapid’ Destruction of Japan Reviewed by EMN on October 19, 2019 Rating: 5

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