Tokyo Braces for Biggest Storm in Decade as Flights Canceled

credit: hindustantimes.com

(Bloomberg.com) Typhoon Wipha, projected to become Tokyo’s biggest storm in about 10 years, was forecast to pass along eastern Japan, reaching the capital early today and heading northeast to the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

Narita airport, just east of Tokyo and closer to the forecast storm path, is delaying flights, according to its website. Train companies planned to suspend services today, affecting millions of commuters.

Wipha, the 26th typhoon of the season to approach Japan, was centered 243 km (151 miles) south of Tokyo as of 3:45 a.m., moving northeast at 60 km per hour, with winds gusting to 180 km per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency’s website. The center is forecast to be off the coast of Fukushima prefecture, site of the damaged plant, by 8 a.m.

“The typhoon may be a once-in-a-decade event in the Kanto region, the strongest since typhoon No. 22 in 2004,” public broadcaster NHK reported yesterday, citing Japanese Meteorological Agency official Hiroyuki Uchida.

Trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange will operate as normal, according to a statement yesterday from the bourse. Schools in the central districts of Shinagawa, Shibuya and Minato will be shut.

East Japan Railway Co. canceled 16 bullet trains for today, according to a faxed statement. ANA Holdings yesterday canceled 12 domestic flights, affecting about 1,000 people, spokesman Takashi Abe said by telephone. Japan Airlines (9201) pulled 22 flights, affecting about 2,625 people, it said in a faxed statement.

Capsule Hotels

Business hotels around Tokyo Station filled up fast as office workers looked for rooms so that they could make it into work.

“I was looking for a business hotel since the morning, but it was no good,” said Michiyoshi Kato, senior vice president of foreign-currency sales at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Tokyo. “I had to settle for a capsule hotel in Kanda,” one-stop away from Tokyo.

Earlier this month Typhoon Danas, which recorded gusts of 180 km per hour, tore through southern Japan, wrecking a town hall and forcing refinery operations to stop. Flights and ferry services were suspended.