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Typhoon Vera
Category 5 typhoon (SSHS)
Formed September 21, 1959
Dissipated September 28, 1959
Highest
winds
315 km/h (195 mph) (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure 896 hPa (mbar)
Fatalities 5,238 direct
Damage $261 million (1959 USD)
$1.96 billion (2009 USD)
Areas
affected
Japan
Part of the
1959 Pacific typhoon season

Super Typhoon Vera (international designation: 5915) was the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in recorded history. With winds of 160 mph, Vera slammed into the southeastern coast of Japan in Wakayama Prefecture and then proceeded northeast across Honshu, causing widespread damage and flooding. 5,098 people were killed in Japan with an additional 38,921 people injured.[1] Typhoons in Japan are generally numbered each year (Typhoon Number 1, Typhoon Number 2, etc.), but because of its destructiveness, the Japan Meteorological Agency named this typhoon the Isewan Typhoon (伊勢湾台風 Isewan Taifū ?) because much of the destruction was caused by flooding around Ise Bay near the city of Nagoya.

Contents

Meteorological history

Storm path

A low pressure area between Guam and Chuuk slowly organized into a tropical storm on September 21. Named Vera, it intensified into a typhoon the next day as it tracked northwestward. On the 23rd, Vera rapidly intensified, possibly reaching peak winds of 190 mph winds that day. The wind speed, which was measured by reconnaissance aircraft, are subject to dispute due to the unknown conversion factors. Regardless, the super typhoon was very intense with a pressure of 896 mb.

Significant Typhoons with Special Names
(from the Japan Meteorological Agency)
Name Number Name in Japan
Marie T5415 Toyamaru Typhoon
Ida T5822 Kanogawa Typhoon
Sarah T5914 Miyakojima Typhoon
Vera T5915 Isewan Typhoon
Nancy T6118 2nd Muroto Typhoon
Cora T6618 2nd Miyakojima Typhoon
Della T6816 3rd Miyakojima Typhoon
Babe T7709 Okinoerabu Typhoon

Unlike most super typhoons, which weaken due to upwelling or other outside factors, Vera remained very strong, slowly weakening as it continued northward. Strong divergence aloft and continued warm water temperatures allowed Vera to remain the equivalent of a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. On September 26, Vera struck the coast along the Kansai region of Japan with winds of 160 mph. The storm weakened over the Archipelago while rapidly moving the northeast, and re-emerged into the northern Pacific Ocean on the 27th as a minimal typhoon. It continued to the east, and became extratropical on the 28th.

Impact

Vera will likely be recorded as one of Japan's worst natural disasters. Heavy storm surge combined with flooding, as well as extreme winds, caused the deaths of 4,580 people with 658 missing. Vast areas of crops were destroyed, sea walls ruined, roads and railways greatly damaged, and overflown rivers contributed to a damage estimate of $261 million (1959 USD, $1.67 billion in 2005 USD). Over 32,000 people were injured, and 1,596,855 people were left homeless. The combination of the death toll and the great number of people left homeless contributed to large outbreaks of dysentery, gangrene, tetanus and other epidemics.

See also

Sources

  1. ^ Kenji Suzuki (March 21, 2006). "Typhoon Isewan and Its Lessons". Japan Water Forum. http://www.waterforum.jp/jpn/katrina/Typhoon_Isewan.pdf.  
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