Heavy rains stemming from Typhoon Etau have dumped more than two feet of rain over some areas of Japan since Monday this week, causing extreme flooding. Floodwaters are currently plaguing Tokyo and stretching north to Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures, where the danger is highest. Emergency officials report that 170,000 people have been evacuated in Tochigi Prefecture, where floodwaters consumed entire homes within minutes.
As is a common scene during times of extreme flooding, rescue workers are attempting to rush survivors to safety as quickly as possible. Helicopters carried members of the Japanese Self Defense Forces over the flooded areas to pick up stranded residents from rooftops, as floodwaters surrounded the homes. As of Thursday afternoon, around 120 people have been rescued from flooded areas, but it’s unknown how many more remain stranded.
The amount of rainfall slamming the area is staggering, compared to average figures. Japanese news sources reported that parts of Tochigi received more than 50 centimeters (1.6 feet) of rain within 24 hours, which is approximately double the amount that typically falls in the region for the entire month of September. This follows the trend of higher than average rainfall elsewhere on the globe, which researchers attribute largely to climate change.
As the rain continues, the threat of even more widespread flooding and the potential for mudslides also increases. The mountains surrounding the region create a funnel, trapping storms and worsening the floods. CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam expects another 5-10 centimeters (2-4 inches) of rain to fall in the area over the next 36 hours, so the disaster is far from over.