Eastern Japan has been inundated by widespread flooding when the Kinugawa River overflowed its banks. The flooding is due to unprecedented torrential rainfalls attributable to Typhoon Etau, which made landfall on Wednesday September 9. As many as 100,000 people were displaced by the flooding as military helicopters rescued residents from the top floors of their homes. An additional 800,000 people were told to evacuate as a precautionary measure.
The flooding damaged at least 10,000 homes and dislodged others. The storm is known to have caused 60 landslides. There are many injured and at least 3 people are known to have died, many others are missing and presumed dead.
To make matters worse the rains led to the release of hundreds of tons radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was destroyed by storm surges in March 2011.
Takuya Deshimaru, chief forecaster at the Japan Meteorological Agency, called the rainfall “unprecedented” for that part of Japan. “This is a downpour on a scale that we have not experienced before,” Deshimaru told The Guardian. “We can say this is an abnormal situation,” Deshimaru told the BBC.
According to some meteorologists this is a once in hundred year event others say it is a once in 50 year event. It is consistent with scientific predictions that global warming increases the intensity of typhoons in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Warmer seas caused by climate change fuel more powerful storms. Warmer air is also a factor as it holds more moisture and leads to more intense precipitation.