Eastern Hemisphere Struck With Cyclones
Once again, Japan is under the watchful eye of meteorologists and people across the globe. The strongest tropical cyclone of the year is progressively heading towards the island. Typhoon Vongfong is gaining momentum out at sea with winds of 165 mph. It is expected to make landfall across U.S. military islands Saturday and Sunday and then Japan Monday.
According to Michael Lowry, a storm specialist for The Weather Channel, “…Vongfong is the strongest storm on Earth since Haiyan last year.” Nearly a year ago, Super Typhoon Haiyan crashed ashore the Philippines affecting more than 16 million people. Equivalent to a Category 5 storm, Haiyan created winds up to 235 miles per hour and 13 foot storm surges. The death poll climbed to 6,000 with injuries resulting in 27,000. After the storm, 4.1 million people were homeless and 2.5 million were in need of food. Heavy damages to the rice industry forced the Philippines to import additional rice from surrounding countries to feed its growing population.
“Our farmers are small farmers. They own on average eigth tenths of a hectare. Their crop was 70 percent destroyed,” stated Antonio Gerundio, regional executive director of the central government’s department of agriculture.
Although Vongfong is strengthening, forward projections indicate it will lose power the further north it spins. Heavy rain, strong winds and mudslides are probable as the storm reaches Japan.
The islands have had less than a week to recover from the last Typhoon that hit. Typhoon Phanfone slammed into central Japan causing mudslides and delays in trains and over 600 flights. Back-to-back storms could result in worsening mudslides and delays. Toyota suspended work in 12 of its factories due to the typhoon.
Preparations On Kadena Air Base
Meteorologists believe the Southern Island of Okinawa will bear the brunt of the storm. To prepare, Military personal on the U.S. bases (including Kadena) of the island have begun stocking up on water and food supplies. Precautions are being taken more seriously after at least three U.S. servicemen were killed by Typhoon Phanfone last week.
Update: Vongfong crashed ashore Okinawa Saturday, October 11 injuring at least 31 people. The storm weakened to a tropical storm as of 11 p.m. local time after moving past Okinawa.
The storm moved across western Japan and in its destructive path, killed two and injured more than 100. It caused 600 canceled flights on Monday, October and 13 and more than 60 Tuesday. Prior to the Typhoon hitting land, more than 800,000 people were urged to evacuate their homes. More than 150,000 residents lost electricity from the storm.
According to Newsweek, “Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, said on Monday it had increased water transfer and storage capacity to prevent an overflow of radioactive water being stored at the plant.”
South Pacific Islands
While making its way to Okinawa, the storm passed over Guam and other South Pacific Islands. Guam Governor, Eddie Calvo encouraged citizens to stock up on supplies and be aware of changing weather conditions. “It’s important that the necessary preparations are done while there is sunlight and good weather,” Calvo explained.
Officials of Rota (an island in the Northern Marina Islands) warned residents of the threat of power outages, deadly flying debris and damages to structures. Fortunately, damage was not as severe as originally expected. Seventy percent of the island was without power, but no deaths or injuries were reported.
After barreling over the islands, Vongfong picked up strength and continued on its route to Okinawa. Meteorologists predict it will make landfall late tonight and tomorrow morning.
Tropical Cyclone Hudhud
Just to the west, India is also bracing for a vicious storm. Tropical Cyclone Hudhud is heading directly towards the port city of Visakhapatnam. The city is India’s third largest with over 2 million people.
Visakhapatnam’s economy is suspended by the fishing industry and seafood exports. The livelihood of many citizens rely on the industry. The ports in the city serve as a gateway for the petroleum, steel and fertilizer industries. Iron ore and other minerals are frequently exported to other countries.
Nearly a year ago, Cyclone Phailin brought destruction to the same area. Although the storm claimed 44 lives, it was considered a success in terms of emergency preparedness plans. Before the storm hit, over one million people were evacuated. Nearly 10,000 lives were lost in a similar cyclone just 14 years prior.
Keep up-to-date with the most recent hurricane and typhoon news here.
Eastern Hemisphere: Hurricane Gonzalo
Shifting gears to the Western Hemisphere, Bermuda was hit this past Friday (October 17) by the strongest storm to pass through the area in a decade. Category 2 storm, Hurricane Gonzalo, carried with it 110mph when it crashed ashore the British island. Although no injuries or deaths were reported, more than 18,000 homes were without power Sunday. Business that suffered damages included an exhibit at the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo and the island parliament. The roofs of both buildings endured damage. The international airport was temporarily closed prior to the storm, however, reopened after it has passed.
The island, however, is recovering well from the storm, according to Premier Dunkley.