Typhoon Wipha caused deadly mudslides and destroyed homes in Japan Wednesday, mostly on the island of Izu Oshima, about 75 miles south of Tokyo.
The storm was threatening to make landfall Wednesday in Japan near Tokyo and the still-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, but despite heavy rains, they escaped the worst of it. Wipha remained offshore from the Tokyo area as it was downgraded to a tropical storm, but still managed to drop about 10 inches of rain, and create wind gusts up to 72 mph.
Hundreds of flights and trains were cancelled around Tokyo, and one woman was swept away by a flooded river. Fukushima saw heavy rain but Tokyo Electric Power Corporation said they were able to safely pump water out of the plant.
Only one of the 17 deaths caused by the storm occurred outside of Oshima, though wire reports indicate 45 to 50 people remain missing. The small island of about 8,200 people saw 17 inches fall in four hours, and 33 inches in 24 hours, triggering the flash floods and mudslides that did the bulk of the damage — destroying more than 283 homes in Oshima.
And while Wipha recovery is still going on, tropical storm Francisco is gathering strength in the Pacific, with potential to intensify and move toward Japan, though it is too early to know what path it will take. Even if Francisco peters out, the 2013 typhoon season has already been a destructive one. According to Jeff Masters at Weather Underground, the West Pacific’s total of 27 tropical storms or typhoons this year is closing in on the”The last time there were more than 27 tropical storms or typhoons in the West Pacific was in 2004, when there were 32.”