#PrayForJapan: Powerful Typhoon Hagibis Approaches Honshu Main Island, Turning Sky Eerie Shade of Purple

Powerful Typhoon Hagibis is approaching the Japanese mainland, forcing authorities in the country to issue evacuation warnings for more than a million people as the hashtag #PrayForJapan trends on Twitter.

Although the storm has weakened, experts say the typhoon could be one of the most destructive to strike the country since 1958, when Typhoon Ida killed more than 1,200 people, ABC News reported.

Currently, the typhoon has maximum sustained wind speeds of around 120 miles per hour, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the center of Hagibis—which means "speed" in the Philippine language, Tagalog—is located around 200 miles southwest of the tiny island of Hachiojima.

The storm is expected to make landfall on the southeastern coast of the main island, Honshu, near the city of Nagoya, later today with maximum sustained winds of around 100 miles per, AccuWeather reported.

Despite the fact that it hasn't made landfall yet, the storm is already affecting some southern and central areas of Honshu, bringing strong winds between around 60 and 80 miles per hour, as well as heavy rainfall, CNN reported.

In fact, one person has already died as a result of the storm and five more have been injured, according to local authorities.

"A 49-year-old man was found in a toppled mini truck and sent to hospital but was confirmed dead," Hiroki Yashiro, a spokesman from the Ichihara Fire Department, in Chiba—a prefecture east of Tokyo—said on Saturday morning.

The JMA has issued level five warnings—its highest level of alert—to several prefectures, including some in the Tokyo area. Meteorologists are predicting that Hagibis could dump unprecedented amounts of rain, potentially matching the levels experienced during Ida in 1958.

Authorities are warning of the potential for flooding and landslides, urging around 1.64 million people to evacuate their homes. Among the areas advised to evacuate are some of the most heavy populated areas of Greater Tokyo, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

As the storm approached the mainland, many social media users in Japan posted images of the sky, which had turned eerie shades of purple and pink. A similar phenomenon was seen earlier this year in Florida as Hurricane Dorian grazed the U.S. east coast.

"Beautiful sky in Japan before the typhoon. Looks peaceful but it's actually an indicator that the storm is coming," one Twitter user, U'yun husna, wrote in a post.

Beautiful sky in Japan before the typhoon. Looks peaceful but it’s actually an indicator that the storm is coming #PrayForJapan pic.twitter.com/MsT8ZmOMKA

— U'yun husna (@nuynhusna) October 12, 2019

Experts say that the strange purple skies are the result of light from the sun at sunset being scattered in a particular way by hurricane storm clouds.

"The colors result from a phenomenon called Raleigh scattering," Scott Cordero, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, previously told Newsweek. "Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of light rays, causing them to scatter."

"Scattering affects the color of light coming from the sky, but the details—the colors—are determined by the wavelength of the light and the size of the particle," he said.

The typhoon has already caused travel disruption, with operators suspending many bullet train and subway services, and grounding more than 1,600 flights, ABC News reported. Meanwhile, many shops, businesses and factories on the Japanese east coast have closed.

The storm has also caused disruption to major sporting events. All practice and qualifying sessions for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix, which were scheduled for Saturday, have been cancelled, as have two Rugby World Cup matches.

Just last month, another powerful typhoon, Faxai, struck the Kantō region of Honshu—which includes the Greater Tokyo Area. The storm was the strongest typhoon to hit the region since Ida in 1958, killing three people and injuring 147 others. Faxai damaged tens of thousands of buildings and caused widespread power outages.

Hagibis formed in the West Pacific, becoming a tropical storm on October 5. Just two days later, the storm rapidly intensified to become a "super typhoon"—maximum sustained wind speeds of at least 150 miles per hour—before it battered Guam and the northern Mariana Islands on Monday and Tuesday, causing widespread damage, AccuWeather reported.

Typhoons and hurricanes are two different names given to tropical storms. "Typhoon" is the term used to describe those that form over the northwestern Pacific, while "hurricane" is the term given to those that form in the North Atlantic and northeastern Pacific.

Typhoon Hagibis
Local residents walk beside hanging electric cables caused by strong winds from Typhoon Hagibis in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture on October 12, 2019. STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images