Powerful Typhoon Lionrock lashed the Tohoku region late Tuesday afternoon, forcing transport services and schools to close down and residents to evacuate.
The typhoon made landfall at Ofunato on the Sanriku coast of Iwate Prefecture shortly before 6 p.m. Later in the evening it was tracking northwest and was expected to pass through the Tohoku region and reach the Sea of Japan by midnight, the Meteorological Agency said.
Responding to the typhoon, the 10th for the season and first to make landfall directly in the region that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, railways suspended bullet trains servicing Akita, Tokyo and Hokkaido.
The typhoon prompted some municipalities in Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures to issue evacuation advisories to a total of around 177,000 people due to possible landslides and high waves.
Power outages affected 15,000 households in the region, according to Tohoku Electric Power Co.
Major carriers canceled more than 100 flights, most of them bound for or departing from northern parts of Japan, including Hokkaido.
Train operators canceled services, with shinkansen operations affected.
Precipitation is expected to reach up to 250 mm in the hours through noon Wednesday in Tohoku, and up to 200 mm in Hokkaido and 100 mm in the Hokuriku region, according to the Meteorological Agency.
The agency has warned of possible flooding and landslides, saying some areas could log the same amount of rainfall in one day as in a typical month of August.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., operator of the devastated Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, braced for the arrival of Lionrock. There were no reports of abnormalities from the plant Tuesday evening.
Workers secured power cables, hoses and heavy machinery, and will “closely monitor” groundwater levels and seawater quality at the plant, according to a statement from the utility.
Toyota Motor Corp. suspended production Tuesday at two factories in the typhoon’s path due to concerns that heavy rain and strong winds would affect road conditions and delay deliveries of parts.
Lionrock is the fourth typhoon to make landfall in Japan this year, with Typhoon Mindulle last week becoming the first to make landfall near Tokyo in 11 years.
Typhoons making landfall are most common in August and September, though approaches by cyclones can continue as late as December.
Lionrock prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to cut short his visit to Kenya, where he had been leading a conference on African development, to oversee preparations for the storm.
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