The cancellation of this weekend's Rugby World Cup games, including the All Blacks clash with Italy, has many scratching their heads.
How bad could it be?
The truth is that Super Typhoon Hagibis, described as the "most powerful storm in the world" by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, has the potential to cause huge amounts of damage and destruction, as proven by recent typhoons to strike Japan.
Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with the magazine Scientific American, told the New York Times that if Hagibis proceeds as predicted, it could become one of the most damaging typhoons in Japanese history.
"If it hits Tokyo Bay like some of the current forecasts are saying, then it's going to be a multibillion dollar disaster," Masters said.
The country is still recovering from last month's Typhoon Faxai, which caused widespread damage, including massive power outages in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo.
Typhoon Jebi, which slammed into Japan last year, caused an estimated $12.6 billion (NZ$19.95 billion) in damage, killing 11 people and leading the Japanese Government to order the evacuation of nearly 50,000 people.
The extraordinary display of ultrarapid intensification in Typhoon Hagibis took place on Monday, when the storm's winds increased by 160km/h in just 24 hours, which is one of the fastest rates of intensification ever observed on Earth.
Hagibis had maximum sustained winds of up to 270km/h and stronger gusts at noon today near Chichi island in the Pacific, about 1000km off Tokyo's southern coast.
• How Super Typhoon Hagibis became a beast, looming over Japan
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster says Super Typhoon Hagibis could disrupt travel plans
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: World react to Typhoon Hagibis and cancellation of All Blacks v Italy
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: All Blacks v Italy and England v France cancelled as Typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan
If it seems like rapidly intensifying storms such as Super Typhoon Hagibis are occurring more regularly, it's because they are - at least in some parts of the world. Rapidly intensifying storms are becoming more common in the North Atlantic Ocean Basin, for example. More importantly, such storms are expected to become more frequent worldwide as human-caused global warming continues.
For example, a 2017 paper that studied modelled Atlantic storms showed an uptick in the number of storms that would rapidly intensify just before landfall in a warmer world. Even more alarming was the study's simulation that storms intensifying by 112km/h or more within 24 hours - which the author, MIT's Kerry Emanuel, found had occurred on the average of only once per century in the late 20th-century climate - may occur "every 5-10 years by the end of this century".
Another study, published last year, found that with continued global warming, more tropical cyclones will undergo rapid intensification than had done so before. It also found, using a climate model capable of simulating these massive storms amid changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions, that future storms could be so intense that a new category - Category 6, might be required to describe their intensity.
For the period between 2016 and 2035, the study found that there would be an 11 per cent uptick in major tropical cyclones, of Category 3 intensity or greater, for example. It also showed 72 storms with maximum sustained winds above 305km/h by the end of the century, compared with just nine such storms in a simulation of the late-20th-century climate.
- Additional reporting, Washington Post