Super Typhoon Hagibis Churning in the Western Pacific Ocean; Could Strike Japan, Including Tokyo, This Weekend meteorologists
Published: October 9, 2019

Super Typhoon Hagibis remains a western Pacific Ocean powerhouse. While it is forecast to weaken, it will also curl toward a potential strike in Japan, possibly including Tokyo, this weekend.

Hagibis was centered about 1,000 miles south of Tokyo as of Thursday morning, local time, and is still at Category 5 strength. Hagibis has been a super typhoon, a term given to typhoons with estimated maximum winds of at least 150 mph, for over 48 hours, since rapidly intensifying Sunday into Monday.

Hagibis is also a large tropical cyclone.

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, tropical storm-force winds extend up to 350 miles from the center of Hagibis. Typhoon-force (at least 74 mph) winds extend up to 115 miles from the center.

Current Satellite and Storm Information

Hagibis is moving north-northwestward but it will make a curl toward the northeast by Friday, putting it on a collision course with Japan's largest main island, Honshu.

The typhoon will be weakening as it nears Japan because of increasingly unfavorable upper-level winds, drier air and cooler sea-surface temperatures. That said, Hagibis should still be a strong and dangerous typhoon as it makes its closest pass Saturday into early Sunday.

Projected Path

Potential impacts are still somewhat uncertain, given the uncertainty as to the exact path Hagibis' center will take.

However, given the large size of the storm, it is likely that at least tropical storm-force winds will rake across parts of southern Honshu. Typhoon-force winds, capable of more widespread wind damage and power outages, would occur if the core of Hagibis tracks over land. This could include the Tokyo metro area Saturday.

If Hagibis makes landfall over southern Honshu, a dangerous storm surge is also expected with the arrival of Hagibis, and would be highest to the east of the center along coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean and in smaller bays opening to the south.

If its center turns sharper and tracks just to the east of Honshu, the surge threat would be lower, but some coastal flooding would still result ahead of the typhoon's passing.

Heavy rain is expected to trigger flash flooding, as well, particularly in urban areas and higher terrain.

These impacts could begin in southern Honshu as soon as Friday night, local time, given the size of Hagibis and the large ocean swells it has already generated.

Hagibis is poised to strike Japan just over a month after Typhoon Faxai hammered Tokyo and Chiba prefecture, damaging 34,000 buildings, knocking out power to 930,000 homes, snarling air and rail travel and causing over half a billion dollars in agricultural damage, according to The Straits Times.

Hagibis could also disrupt Rugby World Cup matches in Japan this weekend, including a match between England and France scheduled for Saturday in Yokohama.

Beach houses are damaged as typhoon hits the beachfront area in Miura, south of Tokyo, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.
(Kyodo News via AP)

Hagibis' Rapid Intensification

Maximum sustained winds near the center of Hagibis increased from 60 mph at 8 a.m. EDT Sunday to 160 mph at 8 a.m. EDT Monday. That means Hagibis intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 equivalent in just 24 hours.

Based on wind speed, the rapid intensification of Hagibis rivals one of the most extreme typhoons on record. Maximum sustained winds in 1983's Super Typhoon Forrest increased by 100 mph in one day, according to NOAA's Hurricane Research Division.

Hagibis brought bands of heavy rain and gusty winds to the Northern Mariana Islands, including Guam and Saipan Monday night into Tuesday. Anatahan Island saw the brunt of the strongest winds from Hagibis, however, that island has no population.

The Western Pacific Ocean is the most active basin for tropical cyclones on Earth.

Hagibis is the 19th named storm of the year in the Western Pacific Ocean, according to Digital Typhoon.

From 1981-2010, an average of 26 Western Pacific named storms formed each year, 17 of which became typhoons – more than double the average of Atlantic Basin named storms (12) and hurricanes (6).

Since these Western Pacific systems can form any time of year, there really is no season.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.