Typhoon Phanfone could impact Tokyo, Japan with hurricane strength winds

by Artemis on October 2, 2014

Typhoon Phanfone, which has intensified rapidly to a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of up to 120mph and gusts as high as 150mph, is on course to impact Japan, possibly Tokyo itself with hurricane strength winds by late Sunday or Monday.

Typhoon Phanfone could be the biggest threat to Tokyo of this year’s typhoon season, despite coming later in the year and the forecast path currently has it set to make a very close pass by the largest city in Japan as at least a Category 1 typhoon. A small move north of the track could bring Phanfone directly over Tokyo or just offshore, scenarios that are often considered ‘worst case’ for Japan typhoon risk.

That could bring damaging winds, heavy to torrential rainfall and also a risk of storm surge to Tokyo, however the threat will be dependent on the track that Phanfone takes and there is a long way to go before forecasters will be able to give more certainty as to the threat to Tokyo.

Typhoon Phanfone forecast path and intensity

Typhoon Phanfone forecast path and intensity - Source: Weather Underground

Forecasters are currently expecting typhoon Phanfone to intensify even further in the next day or so, with some predicting that Phanfone will achieve super typhoon status, with winds over 120mph. The recent intensification has been extremely rapid and Phanfone is developing a defined eye with outflow features, meaning the structure of the storm looks conducive to further intensification.

Typhoon Phanfone satellite image

Typhoon Phanfone satellite image - Source: Weather Underground

The track of typhoon Phanfone contains some uncertainty, as the storm could just impact the southern Japanese islands and dissipate somewhat making any impact on the Japanese mainland much less severe. Alternatively Phanfone could curve earlier than expected and miss Japan and Tokyo all together, passing to the south.

But the worst case scenario would be a strong, yet low category, typhoon Phanfone tracking directly towards Tokyo Bay which could result in the worst storm surge seen in some years. This threat makes Phanfone a typhoon to keep an eye on over the next few days.

As ever with a Japan typhoon risk torrential rainfall and the possibility of flooding are a major threat to the country, even if the storm takes a less direct path towards populated areas. Phanfone is a large typhoon meaning that outer rainbands will impact Japan no matter what route the storm eventually takes, with the risk of 10 inches or greater of localised rainfall which would cause flooding and increase the risk of landslides.

Despite the late season threat, Phanfone is a typhoon to watch through this weekend as the track becomes more certain. Insurance and reinsurance exposures to typhoon risk are sizeable in Japan, meaning that some insurance-linked securities (ILS) funds have exposure via collateralized reinsurance or private ILS deals and also the catastrophe bond market does have exposure to Japan typhoon risk and resulting flooding from two outstanding cat bonds.

We will update you should the threat from typhoon Phanfone look to be severe by the end of the week. The tracking map above will be updated regularly as typhoon Phanfone approaches Japan.

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