Rugby World Cup 2019: 'Furious' Typhoon Hagibis not to be taken lightly - meteorologist

A meteorologist says the "furious" typhoon that will pummel Japan this weekend should not be taken lightly.

World Rugby announced on Thursday that two Rugby World Cup matches - including the All Blacks v Italy fixture - will be cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis. 

The typhoon will strike mainland Japan on Saturday evening (local time) and is expected to cause flash flooding and mudslides. 

"Based on this morning's information from our independent weather experts, Hagibis is predicted to be the biggest typhoon of the 2019 season," Rugby World Cup head Alan Gilpin told media on Thursday.

"It is highly likely to cause considerable disruption in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas throughout Saturday, including likely public transport shutdowns and disruption."

Typhoons - the name for tropical cyclones or hurricanes in the west-Pacific - frequently hit Japan, but this one is expected to be the largest of the year. It's currently being called "very strong" by the Japan Meteorological Agency. 

Kiwis in Japan should not take the weather event lightly, says NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll. He told The AM Show that World Rugby likely made the right decision to cancel the games considering the scale of the storm.

"If it was on our scale, this would be a category five, so it would be maxing out the scale we use in the south-west-Pacific," Noll said.

"This part of the world sees maybe two dozen storms, not all this intense, but certainly they occur.

Noll said the typhoon had the potential to be very destructive and deadly. 

"This storm, not just the winds which are currently gusting around 300km/h, but the rain as well, it is going to come fast and furious up to 500ml rain in a very short period of time. That is flash flooding concerns, that is mudslide concerns," he said.

"These are not storms to be taken lightly, better than to be safe than sorry."

Noll said if a storm of this size and intensity was heading towards New Zealand, there would be "major issues".

Organisers will continue to monitor the weather forecast for Sunday, when four games are scheduled to wrap up tournament pool play. The most crucial of these is the Scotland v Japan encounter, which would decide qualifiers from Pool A and New Zealand's quarter-final opponents.

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