New system to warn of extreme weather

Kyodo

The Meteorological Agency introduced a new system Friday for issuing alerts for extreme weather that could become “life-threatening.”

The new system applies to powerful typhoons, torrential rain, tsunami, high waves, blizzards and potentially destructive winds.

The system incorporates existing alerts for 3-meter tsunami or higher, and for volcanic eruptions requiring nearby residents to evacuate. The system adds potential early warnings for earthquakes with an expected strength of lower 6 or higher on the Japanese scale to 7.

The extreme weather alerts will be issued through municipalities when the potential damage is estimated to be among the worst to hit an area in decades, officials said.

Agency chief Mitsuhiko Hatori said Thursday that the new warnings will be issued to inform residents of risks considered potentially life-threatening.

In the event of heavy rain, an extreme weather warning will be issued based on precipitation totals over three hours and soil saturation levels by region.

Such warnings would have been issued for the heavy rain that hit Yamaguchi and Shimane prefectures in late July, and the Tohoku region and parts of Shimane Prefecture in early August, the agency officials said.

In the event of typhoons and extra-tropical lows, the warnings will be issued when the central atmospheric pressure is 930 hectopascals or lower and the wind speed tops 180 kph.

Typhoon bearing down

The Meteorological Agency warned Friday of massive rainfall over a wide area from Kyushu to Hokkaido with localized intense downpours caused by a low-pressure air mass accompanying Kong-rey, the year’s 15th typhoon.

The typhoon, however, has not been strong enough to prompt the agency to issue an extreme weather alert in line with the new warning system that it introduced on Friday.

The typhoon, which on Friday was over the East China Sea and on course to approach Kyushu on Saturday, was bringing humid winds and unstable conditions.

According to the agency, 73.5 mm or rainfall per hour was observed in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, while Kamiamakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture registered 60.5 mm an hour.

An estimated 80 mm of rainfall per hour was forecast for northern Kyushu, while 60 mm was forecast for the Tohoku and Hokuriku regions.

Up to 200 mm of rain was expected to fall in Yamaguchi Prefecture and northern Kyushu in the 24-hour period through 6 a.m. Saturday, the agency said. Also, rainfall of 180 mm was forecast for Hokuriku, 150 mm for Tohoku and the Chugoku region, 120 mm for the Tokai region and 90 mm for Hokkaido.