On Thursday (Aug. 15), tropical storm Krosa blasted through Japan with extremely strong winds and heavy rains that brought on evacuation alerts, flood and landslide warnings, and more than 600 cancelled domestic flights, throwing the country into travel chaos following the Obon festival.
Classified just one level below a typhoon, Severe Tropical Storm Krosa had been picking up speed and wind gusts of up to 160kmh just off the southwestern coast of Japan.
Relevant authorities snapped into action and released a voluntary evacuation advisory for those in the path of the storm—around 550,000 people in number.
According to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, the severe tropical storm, injured four people with its forceful winds and torrential rain, and another person sustained more serious injuries as a result of the natural disaster.
The agency also reported that the waters of a river situated in a valley rose quickly because of the heavy rains, leaving a group of 18 people, which included children, stranded during a barbecue.
The group has been moved to higher ground, and authorities will be rescuing them later today.
Tropical storm Krosa has also caused extreme travel chaos during this peak holiday period in Japan, with more than 600 domestic flights cancelled to and from cities in western part of the country.
Bullet train services were affected as well, with many being delayed or stopped completely because of the adverse weather.
Japan just finished the Obon or Bon festival period, which is a Buddhist custom to honour the spirit of one’s ancestors. Locals celebrate the festival by returning to their ancestral homes with their families to visit and clean ancestors’ grave sites.
The festival has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and encapsulates many traditions. This year, the festival lasted for three days, from August 13 to 15.
People returning to major cities following the holiday are now stranded, thanks to the cancellation of flights and train services.
Ferry services connecting the southern Shikoku island and other parts of Japan have also been cancelled because of strong, choppy waves.
Japanese authorities reported that Krosa’s strength has died down considerably from earlier in the week as it churned in the Pacific Ocean.
However, according to weather experts, the tropical storm has a very large eye, signalling heavy rainfall.
Krosa’s speed—currently at a very slow 20 kmh—means that the strong rainfall will continue for a longer period of time. /TISG