Geneva - As Typhoon Neoguri recently approached Okinawa, UNISDR's PreventionWeb team aimed to answer: What are the most devastating cyclones to hit Okinawa in recent memory? What are the underlying drivers of cyclone disaster risks in Japan? What can you do to prepare?
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Ongoing typhoon situation
The storm had lost strength early Tuesday, July 8, going from the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which means devastating damage is expected to occur, with major damage to well-built framed homes, snapped or uprooted trees and power outages. It is approaching Okinawa, Japan, and is moving northwest towards South Korea and the Philippines, bringing strong winds, flooding rainfall and inundating storm surge. Typhoon Neoguri is a once-in-a-decade storm and Japanese authorities have extended their highest storm alert to Okinawa's main island. The Global Assessment Report (GAR) 2013 ranked Japan as first among countries in the world for both annual and maximum potential losses due to cyclones. It is calculated that Japan loses on average up to $45.9 Billion due to cyclonic winds every year and that it can lose a probable maximum loss of $547 Billion.
What are the most devastating cyclones to hit Okinawa in recent memory?
There have been 12 damaging cyclones to hit Okinawa since 1945. Sustaining winds of 81.6 knots (151 kph), Typhoon “Winnie” caused damages of $5.8 million in August 1997. Typhoon "Bart", which hit Okinawa in October 1999 caused damages of $5.7 million. It sustained winds of 126 knots (233 kph). The most damaging cyclone to hit Japan was Super Typhoon Nida (reaching a peak intensity of 260 kph), which struck Japan in 2004 killing 287 affecting 329,556 people injuring 1,483, and causing damages amounting to $15 Billion.
What are the underlying drivers of cyclone disaster risks in Japan?
Disasters in Japan are mainly driven by exposure of people and assets. Japan is estimated to have relatively very high overall exposure, low vulnerability, and high coping capacity. Japan and the United States of America concentrate 56 percent of global risk from cyclonic winds. Urban produced capital exposed to cyclonic winds in Japan is valued at about $14 trillion, corresponding to 100 percent of its total urban produced capital. Japan ranks 61 out of 165 on the Multi-Hazard Risk Index with a score of 0.5. Japan is also rated with high resilience with a rank of 147 out of 165 on the Lack of Resilience Index by the Pacific Disaster Center with a score of 0.26.
What can you do to prepare?
• The Japan Meteorological Agency provides recommended responses to all Emergency Warnings
• The U.S. Air Force in Kadena provides a fact sheet about typhoons in Okinawa
• U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa provides a guide on ‘Surviving typhoons’ in Okinawa