Being prepared for a typhoon means keeping informed on the progress and severity of the storm, and taking some common-sense precautions to minimize the problems a typhoon may cause for you.
A typhoon is a large tropical cyclone, a meteorological phenomenon also known as a hurricane. These storms, accompanied by heavy rainfall, can cover areas of up to 500 miles (800 km) in diameter and generate winds up to 180 miles (290 km) an hour. The typhoon season in Japan runs from May through October, with most activity from July to September.
Typhoons that hit Japan are often accompanied by damaging high tides. Persons living in areas close to the ocean are especially at risk. Landslides are also a serious concern during periods of heavy rain. Conditions for a landslide are particularly dangerous after rain has fallen at a rate of 20 mm or more an hour or when 100 mm of rain falls nonstop.
Weather watches (chuiho) are calls for “caution” when it has been predicted that damage may occur as a result of winds and rain brought about by bad weather. Warnings (keiho), which are much stronger than watches (chuiho), are released when forecasters predict that a storm will cause heavy widespread damage. When accompanied by an approaching typhoon, “heavy rain and flooding warnings” (oame-kozui keiho) or “heavy rain information” (oame ni kansuru joho) are also signs that dangerous weather conditions are present.
- Web: NHK World news (English).
- For English-language information in many parts of the Kanto area, listen to Inter-FM at 76.1, Yokohama FM at 84.7 or the US military radio station at AM 810.
- For other areas try Fukuoka, Love FM 76.1 MHz.English-language radio information may not be available in other areas; check local listings.
- Television: If your TV is equipped to receive dual-language broadcasts, NHK news at 7 pm includes detailed weather information.
- Joint Typhoon Warning Center: The U.S. Navy has the Joint Typhoon Warning Center with good satellite weather maps available online.
- The Japan Meteorological Agency’s English-language website provides information on typhoons and other weather-related topics.
- This site from weather.com has current online radar images of Japan and lots of information in English. The TBS website has a useful special typhoon page.
- Weather information online is also available at a number of sites, including www.cnn.com. Type the term “japan weather” into your favorite search engine, such as www.google.com.
- Telephone: Recorded information is available from the US Air Force base at Yokota by dialing 0425-52-2511, listening to a brief recording, waiting for a separate dial tone and then dialing 5-4174.
- Recorded information is also available from the US Naval base at Yokosuka by dialing 0468-21-1910, and dialing extension 243-5155.
- Recorded information in Japanese is available by dialing 177. NHK news at AM 693 is another Japanese language resource.
- Secure or move inside outdoor items such as toys, grills, bicycles, furniture, plants and anything moveable on the balcony. Move potted plants and other heavy objects away from windows inside as well.
- Set your freezer to the coldest temperature setting to minimize spoilage if the power is cut off.
- Watch for leaks around windows and doors. If the wind is strong enough, water may be blown into your home even if the windows are closed. Have handy towels, rags and mops.
- If the storm becomes severe, move into a hallway or area where there is the least exposure to external glass windows.
- Draw curtains across the windows to prevent against flying glass should windows crack.
- If a window breaks, place a mattress or sofa seat over the broken pane and secure it there with a heavy piece of furniture.
- A window on the side of the house away from the approaching storm should be cracked a few inches. This will compensate for the differences of indoor and outdoor air pressure.
- Remember that typhoons have “eyes”, areas in their center where the weather appears calm. If the eye passes over your area, it may appear that the storm has finished, with winds then picking up again as the remainder of the storm arrives.
- After the storm is over, check for broken glass, fallen trees and downed power lines which may present safety hazards near children’s school bus stops, outdoor trash areas, around your car, etc.