The Most Powerful Storm of 2018 Is Headed Toward Japan

Hello, Jebi.
Hello, Jebi.
Image: Joint Typhoon Warning Center

The Atlantic hurricane season may be slipping by to little fanfare (so far), but it’s a different story in the northwest Pacific. A dangerous super typhoon currently packing 170 mph winds could make landfall in Japan early next week.


Typhoon Jebi, which started getting organized east of Guam on August 27, exploded to life over the last few days, intensifying from a Category 1 to a Category 5-equivalent storm in less than 48 hours between August 29-30. Colorado State University tropical storm expert Philip Klotzbach told Earther that based on its central pressure and maximum windspeeds, Jebi has achieved the dubious distinction of most powerful cyclone to date this year.

Currently located 300 miles northwest of Saipan, Jebi is moving northwest at 16 miles per hour, continuing its trek over open ocean into the weekend before making an expected northward veer early next week.

That turn will place it on a direct course for mainland Japan. Recent model runs show a high chance of the storm making landfall near Kyoto, potentially as a powerful typhoon.

“Jebi was in a fairly classic environment for rapid strengthening,” Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson told Earther via email, citing warm ocean waters and favorable upper level wind conditions. “Its forecast track is also a textbook case of recurvature,” with initial movement toward the west or northwest before curving around to the north at mid-latitudes.

Henson added that because Japan’s islands run southwest to northeast, “a small change in the track could have a big impact on exactly where Jebi makes landfall.”


East of Shikoku and south of Honshu, the storm could kick up waves up to 10 meters (33 feet) high as it approaches Japan, creating a hazard for ships, according to AccuWeather. But the real concern is the impact on the heavily populated areas within the storm’s forecast cone of uncertainty, including Tokyo. Flooding, mudslides, and destructive winds are all possible impacts.

If this feels familiar, it is because we’ve been here before. Japan has already seen heavy rainfall associated with two typhoons, a tropical depression and a tropical storm this month, AccuWeather notes. In July, western and central Japan experienced historic rainfall and deadly landslides brought on in part with Typhoon Prapiroon, with Typhoon Maria following closely on its heels and delivering even more rain to the nation’s southern Ryukyu islands.


With northern hemisphere tropical cyclone activity often peaking in September and lasting through November, Japan may not be out of the woods for a while.

This article has been updated to include a comment from Philip Klotzbach.


Maddie Stone is a freelancer based in Philadelphia.


Dense non aqueous phase liquid

Let’s start from the beginning for climate and weather from our friends at Berkeley:

Laws of thermodynamics, simplified:

  • Zeroth: “You must play the game.”
  • First: “You can’t win.”
  • Second: “You can’t break even.”
  • Third: “You can’t quit the game.”

Laws of thermodynamics, actual:

  • Zeroth: If two systems are both in thermal equilibrium with a third then they are in thermal equilibrium with each other.
  • First: The increase in internal energy of a closed system is equal to the heat supplied to the system minus work done by it.
  • Second: The entropy of any isolated system never decreases. An isolated system evolves towards thermodynamic equilibrium — the state of maximum entropy of the system.
  • Third law of thermodynamics: The entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches absolute zero.

I didn’t get the joke at first. Should have went to class more. Thermo sucks.

As more heat accumulates within our planet something’s gotta give, no? Like heat transitioning into work? Weather nerds seem to use terms like carnot cycle and heat engine when talking hurricanes. Fucking nerds! More heat means more work? Did those republican fuckers not take intro to thermo? These are important questions many folks are asking.