Japan Faced With Severe Flooding
Significant flash flooding struck Japan this week due to severe thunderstorms that remained nearly stationary for several hours over the southern island of Kyushu. The stationary boundary collided with warm, moist air from the Pacific igniting the thunderstorms and continuing for nearly 24 hours now, from Thursday afternoon to Friday night causing tremendous amounts of rain to fall over the same areas.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, a record of 500+mm (20 inches) fell in Aso and Kumamoto City in less than a 24 hour period overnight Thursday, causing severe mudslides in the area. In all, 15 people have died as a result of the flash floods and mudslides, with 11 still reported missing. Authorities have sent out search teams, where it is safe to do so, to find the missing or buried. As of Friday night, they have found eight survivors buried in the mudslides. The severe mudslides forced people to shovel their way out of houses and to wade through thigh-deep mud to make their way around. Thankfully 68,000 people had been evacuated from the area prior to the storm, avoiding additional casualties. Among the damage, about 22,000 households lost power, train services were shut down, many roads were inaccessible, and rice crops were severely damaged.
Unfortunately the stationary boundary is not going anywhere any time soon and is forecast to continue to spawn thunderstorms for the next three to five days as the warm, moist air continues to collide with it and the mountains. Another 100+mm is forecast for Saturday in the region once again, with even a slight chance of tornadoes added to the mix. Friday night, heavy rains warnings (including ground-loosening and inundation) and flood warnings were still in effect with an advisory (watch) for severe thunderstorms in the region.