Typhoon Melor made landfall in southern Japan as it clipped Mie Prefecture shortly after 18:00 UTC on October 7, 2009 (02:00 on 8 October local time) as a weak Category 1 typhoon with sustained winds of around 74 mph (119 kmph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Melor then went on to hit Aichi Prefecture before moving along the archipelago. Officials said the storm left at least two people dead and wind gusts exceeding 100 mph (160 kmph) damaged homes and power lines, leaving around 500,000 households without power. Melor moved through densely populated regions in central Japan after landfall, pounding areas with heavy rain and powerful winds that ripped roofs off houses, damaged walls, smashed windows, toppled trees and triggered flooding.
Although Melor weakened as it tracked across Japan, the country’s Meteorological Agency warned the storm was still dangerous and extensive areas, including Tokyo and the western industrial hub of Osaka, were at high risk of landslides as up to 20 inches (500 mm) of rainfall was forecast. At 06:00 UTC, Melor had exited Japan and was located off the east coast of northern Honshu as a tropical storm, packing sustained winds of around 52 mph (83 kmph). The JTWC said Melor is currently transitioning into an extratropical storm and is expected to continue to weaken as it moves away from Japan’s coastline.
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Officials said Melor left a trail of damage across central and southern Japan, particularly the central prefectures of Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Shiga and Wakayama. Two people died in the prefectures of Wakayama and Saitama and at least 64 others were injured in 15 prefectures. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Melor’s severe weather forced around 11,000 people to evacuate their homes and television footage showed partially submerged cars in the industrial city of Nagoya and bridges destroyed by the flooding. Local reports said roofs were ripped off about 50 buildings in Ibaraki and hundreds of schools in Tokyo and Osaka were also forced to close. Extensive power cuts were reported across Japan, with tens of thousands of homes in the prefectures of Mie, Chiba and Gifu losing power, and households in Tokyo and Kanagawa also suffered power outages.
Melor’s strong winds and heavy rain also caused severe disruption to all forms of transportation. Reports said at least 450 domestic and 20 international flights were cancelled and train services in Tokyo suffered were severe delays. More than 2 million commuters in Tokyo were stranded for hours as train services on several lines were suspended, officials said. Road traffic was also hit as sections of highways were closed in the prefectures of Shizuoka, Aichi and Mie.
Several factories in the manufacturing-rich prefectures of central Japan were also forced to close. Toyota said 12 factories in Aichi Prefecture were shut while Honda halted production for the day at a central Japan facility and Sony delayed the opening of four plants in Aichi, Gifu and Shizuoka prefectures. Oil refiners in the affected area also halted some oil shipments but their plants kept operating, industry sources said.
Officials said Melor was the first typhoon to make landfall in Japan this year. The last time a typhoon made a landfall in Japan was September 2007, when Typhoon Fitow came ashore in Kanagawa Prefecture. No typhoon made landfall in Japan last year for the first time in eight years.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Reuters News, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, AAP Bulletins, Platts Commodity News, Kyodo News
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