TOKYO (AP) — A powerful typhoon is forecast to bring up to 31 inches of rain and damaging winds to the Tokyo area and Japan’s Pacific coast this weekend, and the government warned residents to stockpile necessities and leave high-risk places before it’s too dangerous.
Rugby World Cup matches and other events were canceled for Saturday, and flights and train services halted. In the town of Kiho southwest of Tokyo, shops were boarded up, boats were anchored and authorities checked coastal levees. Residents of Tokyo were buying bottled water, instant noodles and other food.
Meteorological Agency official Yasushi Kajihara said Typhoon Hagibis resembled a typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958 with heavy rains and left a half-million houses flooded. More than 1,200 people died in that storm.
“In order to protect your own life and your loved ones, please try to start evacuating early before it gets dark and the storm becomes powerful,” Kajihara said at a news conference.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet planned to hold a disaster management meeting later Friday.
“The government is doing its utmost to prepare for the approaching typhoon,” disaster management minister Ryota Takeda said, asking people to prepare early.
Economy Minister Isshu Sugawara urged hospitals and other public facilities to check their backup power supplies.
Hagibis, which means speed in Filipino, was advancing north-northwestward with winds of 110 mph gusting to 156 mph on Friday afternoon, the weather agency said. It was expected to weaken as it hugs the Pacific coast of Japan’s main island Saturday, making landfall south of Tokyo and passing out to sea by Sunday afternoon.
Up to 31 inches of rain was forecast in the capital region.
No flood warnings or evacuation orders had been issued yet in the Tokyo area as of early Friday evening.
The storm was expected to disrupt sports and holiday events on a three-day weekend, which includes Sports Day on Monday. Two Rugby World Cup matches — England vs. France and New Zealand vs. Italy — that were to be played Saturday were canceled. Qualifying for a Formula One auto race in Suzuka was pushed to Sunday. And the Defense Ministry cut a three-day annual navy review to a single day on Monday.
All Nippon Airways grounded all of its domestic flights scheduled for Saturday at Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita international airports, and Japan Airlines canceled all but its early morning flights at Tokyo airports.
Central Japan Railway Co. said it would cancel all bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka except for several early Saturday trains connecting Nagoya and Osaka.
The typhoon was spreading fear especially in Chiba, near Tokyo, which was hit by Typhoon Faxai in September and where homes still are damaged. That typhoon knocked down about 2,000 power poles, at one point leaving more than 900,000 homes without power, triggering concerns about the country’s aging infrastructure system built decades ago.
Chiba city distributed sandbags to shield against flooding and urged residents to make sure they have enough food and water and that their phones are charged.