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2014年7月13日 (日)

台風8号被害 的確な警報発令で人命守ろう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Precise warning advisories critical to protecting lives from disasters
台風8号被害 的確な警報発令で人命守ろう

Utmost caution was taken against Typhoon No. 8, but damage occurred in unexpected areas.

This revealed anew the difficulty in taking measures against natural disasters.

Said to belong to the most powerful level of typhoon to hit in July, Typhoon No. 8 wreaked havoc on various parts of the country this week. Many buildings, roads and bridges were damaged as they were hit by strong winds and heavy rains. A number of debris flows and landslides also occurred.

The town of Nagiso in Nagano Prefecture was particularly caught off guard. An avalanche of debris was caused by heavy rains Wednesday evening when the eye of the typhoon was still located off the western coast of Kyushu. The avalanche directly hit a residential home, killing a middle school student.

The anticlockwise atmospheric flow caused by the typhoon brought offshore wet air as far as Nagano Prefecture. This appears to have resulted in heavy rain.

Hit by the sudden torrential rain, the Nagiso municipal government issued an evacuation advisory, but it came 10 minutes after the debris flow. The mayor said this “couldn’t be anticipated,” but there is no denying that the town’s actions fell behind.

A caution against heavy rain was issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency, but it came immediately after the debris avalanche had happened.

Debris flows had occurred many times before in Nagiso. The site of the latest occurrence was designated as a warning area against debris flow disasters, and the town had prepared a detailed hazard map and taken various disaster prevention measures.

Catch early signs

Two debris barriers existed in the upper reach of the site of the latest disaster and another barrier was near completion. Measures had therefore been taken on the premise that the area was at risk, but the loss of life could not be prevented.

How early premonitory signs of something unusual can be detected could be key to preventing disasters.

“The precision of radar rain gauges has been enhanced. We’ll look into the possibility of developing a method to disseminate pinpoint information in detail,” said Keiji Furuya, state minister for disaster management.

It is essential to apply the very latest technology to the issuance of effective warnings.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a “special warning” in a district of Okinawa Prefecture over Typhoon No. 8, the first of its kind to be put out against a typhoon. The issuance came on Monday, the day before the supertyphoon came closest to the district. It was appropriate for the agency to have alerted residents early, without fearing that the warning would ultimately be unnecessary.

The fact remains, however, that the district was hit by heavy rain after the special warning was lifted, causing the agency to issue a special warning again.

Some residents might have thought the danger was over because the special warning was lifted once. Isn’t there any room for improving the way the warning is removed?

As global warming progresses, typhoons are said to be growing gigantic in size. This is because the heat caused by increases in sea-surface temperatures become an energy source for typhoons. Typhoon No. 8 could be a typical example of this.

Sea-surface temperatures have remained at high levels this year. With the arrival of the full-scale typhoon season, more powerful storms are feared to hit this country. Every possible countermeasure must be taken to protect people’s lives.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 12, 2014)


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