Japan slammed by torrential rain as Typhoon Mawar nears

People riding bicycles make their way in the heavy rain in Kochi, Japan, on June 2. - Reuters

TOKYO, June 2 (Reuters): Parts of Japan were slammed by torrential rain on Friday as Typhoon Mawar neared, bringing winds and heavy rain to a wide swathe of the country and prompting authorities to advise tens of thousands to evacuate.

Mawar, which wreaked havoc on Guam earlier this week, has weakened to tropical storm strength from its earlier super typhoon status, and the main body of the storm was expected to pass south of the main island of Honshu as it moved into the Pacific.

But forecasters warned there was the danger that humid air from the typhoon could feed into a seasonal rain front, touching off heavy localised rains.

Similar weather patterns have caused flooding and landslides in the past, most notably in the summer of 2018, when more than 200 people were killed in western Japan.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued flood warnings for the Okinawa island chain and parts of Shikoku and Honshu islands, with forecasts of 350mm of rain in parts of western Honshu in the 24 hours up to Saturday morning.

Though heavy summer rains are not uncommon in Japan, June is unusually early for a typhoon-type storm to near the islands.

On Thursday, the JMA said the nation had experienced its warmest spring since record-keeping began in 1898.

Parts of Shikoku were hit by 162.5mm of rain in the three hours until 9am local time, nearly half of that in one hour, NHK public broadcaster said, prompting warnings of landslides.

Around 27,000 people were advised to evacuate in Toyohashi, a city in central Honshu. Evacuation advisories were also issued in parts of Shikoku.

Though a number of flights to the Okinawa area were cancelled, there were no other reports of major disruptions as at Friday morning.- Reuters

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