Typhoon Lan, which is forecast to strike near Tokyo early Monday morning, may cause an estimated $25 billion to $35 billion in damage, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Georgia.
Lan is about 1,169 miles (1,881 kilometers) south of Tokyo with top winds of almost 150 miles per hour. That would make it the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii, a combined U.S. Navy and Air Force operation. While the storm’s expected to strengthen in the next day, it’s forecast to weaken as it nears the coastline.
If it stays on track, Lan will approach Tokyo Bay about 3 a.m. local time Monday. A wobble in the storm’s path could spare Japan damage but right now the forecast is pretty much “a worst-case track,” Watson said.
Japanese infrastructure is better-equipped to handle a storm like Lan than its U.S. equivalent, Watson said. “For typhoons, they are better prepared and better able to deal with them than the U.S. is for hurricanes,” he said. “Bring that same storm into New York City or Miami and it is a $75 billion to $100 billion storm.”
Lan is the latest in a string of devastating tropical cyclones including Maria, Irma, Harvey and Ophelia that have struck Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Ireland in the last two months.
“Since August, this is now the 17th incident I have tracked that threatens more than 1 million people and could cause over $1 billion in damage,” Watson said.