A tropical storm hits Japan with heavy rains and strong winds

TOKYO—Tropical Storm Mary moved north toward the capital Tokyo on Saturday, bringing heavy rain to Japan’s main island of Honshu, according to Japan’s weather official.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Mary made landfall in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, in the afternoon, bringing sudden heavy rain and blast winds across a wide area and issuing warnings for landslides and flooding.

In Shizuoka, the region’s main city, more than 72,000 people were told to evacuate due to possible landslides.

Mary created sustained winds of 72 kilometers (45 miles) per hour and passed over Shizuoka Prefecture at a speed of about 20 kilometers (12 miles) per hour. The storm was expected to move north before turning east by early Sunday and swaying over the Pacific Ocean.

The Tokyo metropolitan area was hit by intermittent torrential rains from midnight. A high wave advisory has been issued for coastal areas such as Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

Officials warn to stay away from rivers and other bodies of water as levels can rise sharply. Precipitation was expected to worsen in the evening in Tokyo and areas north of Tokyo, they said. Heavy rain, strong winds, and heavy rain warnings have been issued for the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Japanese media reports showed videos of the river rising to dangerously high levels, almost reaching the deck of the bridge, as rain poured down on houses and people scuttled down the streets clinging to umbrellas.

Japan is in the midst of the Obon summer vacation, and vacationers are traveling in droves, but some have had to cancel or change their plans.

The Rock in Japan Festival 2022, which began a week ago in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, has canceled the event on Saturday, the final day of the outdoor festival, and promised ticket refunds.

All Nippon Airways canceled some local flights in response to the storm. Low-cost carrier Skymark Airlines has also canceled some flights. Shinkansen service was delayed, and the speed limit for tunnels in Shizuoka Prefecture was temporarily lowered. The Tomei Expressway, which connects Tokyo and Nagoya, was temporarily closed due to heavy rain.

Recently, there have been heavy rains in northern Japan, and landslides are a concern. Rainfall was expected to subside by early Sunday morning in the Tokyo area before hitting northeastern Japan.

In the world’s third-largest economy, seasonal storms and torrential rains often damage dams, blow off roofs, and bring down power lines, causing casualties.

Yuri Kageyama

Associated Press