Updated: Japan Floods – 50cm of Rain in 2 Days – 3 Dead, Dozens Missing

Update 11 September 2015:

Local media, police and disaster management authorities in Japan are reporting that several people have died and many more are missing after torrential rain, raging floods and landslides hit parts of Japan earlier this week.

At least 3 deaths have been reported so far by local media. A woman was found dead after her car had been swept away by flood water in Miyagi Prefecture. Two fatalities have been reported in Tochigi Prefecture, where one of the victims died when her home was crushed under a a landslide, and the other drowned in the floods.

As many as 25 people are still missing and 27 have been injured, 8 of them seriously.

There are also some reports that the Shibuigawa river in Miyagi Prefecture, has now burst its banks.  On Thursday the Kinugawa River overflowed in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Meanwhile Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force continue to carry out rescue operations, many of them by helicopter.

Helicopter flood rescue in Ibaraki Prefecture. Photo: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Helicopter flood rescue in Ibaraki Prefecture. Photo: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Helicopter flood rescue in Ibaraki Prefecture. Photo: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Helicopter flood rescue in Ibaraki Prefecture. Photo: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

Original Report from 10 September 2015:

Torrential rainfall brought by Tropical Storm Etau has caused widespread flooding and landslides in Japan, forcing thousands from their homes.  Some areas have recorded almost 50 cm (19.6 inches) of rain in the last 48 hours.

Reports say that as many as 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday, 10 September 2015. Around 800,000 more have been advised to evacuate by the country’s disaster management officials.

Dozens have been left stranded by the floods, with many seeking refuge on rooftops. One person is reported as missing. Military helicopters have been deployed to carry out emergency rescues.

Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures are the worst hit, in particular Jōsō city, around 50 km north of Tokyo, in Ibaraki Prefecture, which has seen flooding on an unprecedented scale after a berm broke and the Kinugawa River overflowed.

Weather Warnings and Rainfall Levels

Emergency weather warnings have been issued for nearly 5 million people in two prefectures near Tokyo, Tochigi, Ibaraki. Weather Warnings (shown in red) and Advisories (yellow) remain in place across the country.

Japan weather warnings, 10 September 2015. Image: JMA
Japan weather warnings, 10 September 2015. Image: JMA

The chief forecaster for Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said yesterday

“These heavy rains are unprecedented. We can say this is an abnormal situation and there is imminent serious danger”

Judging from figures currently available (via NOAA, WMO, JMA) Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture recorded some of the highest levels, with almost 50 cm of rain falling in 2 days. 208mm of rain fell in 24 hours to 10 September 2015 in Nikko, and 249 mm of rain during the previous 24 hour period.

Utsunomiya saw 241 mm of rain in 24 hours to 10 September 2015. During the same period, Tokyo saw 129 mm, Yokohama 118 mm and Chiba 144 mm.

During the previous 24 hours (08 to 09 September), no fewer than 10 locations in Japan saw more than 100 mm of rain: Kumagay 125 mm, Kawaguchiko 177 mm, Chichibu 219 mm, Tsu 134 mm, Irako 134 mm, Owase 138 mm, Ajiro 124 mm, Oshima 119 mm, Yokkaichi 123 mm and Nikko 249 mm


The video footage below demonstrates the ferocity of the floods and storm, as well as the difficulties faced by emergency rescue teams.

Tropical Cyclone Etau

Tropical Cyclone Etau made landfall as a Tropical Storm in Aichi prefecture in south eastern Japan, around midnight 8 to 9 September (UTC). At that time the centre of the storm was located just off the city of Gamagori, over Mikawa Bay, and it had maximum sustained wind speed of 93km/h.

Etau had already brought heavy rainfall to some areas by 08 September. ECHO, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, reported yesterday that strong winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall have been affecting Honshu due to the passage of Etau, with 137mm of rain observed in Tsu, the capital of Mie prefecture, and 120mm on Izu-Oshima island on 8 September during a 24 hour period.