Trains delayed, traffic disrupted, residents put on heavy coats and boots after surprised November snowfall
TOKYO (Japan) – Tokyo residents woke up Thursday to the first November snowfall in more than 50 years. And the Japan Meteorological Agency said it was the first time fallen snow on the ground was observed in November since such records started to be taken in 1875.
An unusually cold air mass brought wet snow to Japan’s capital. Above-freezing temperatures kept the snow from sticking in most places, though it did accumulate on sidewalks and cars in Tokyo’s far western suburbs.
Experts said the low temperatures and snowfall was due to Arctic air penetrating middle latitudes and being exposed to an atmospheric low with a front moving eastward off Japan’s Pacific coasts.
As much as 2cm of snow was predicted for central Tokyo by the time the snow stops, likely by early afternoon, Japanese Meteorological Agency informed.
Snow also fell in Hokkaido and other regions that are more accustomed to snow. By 9 a.m., snow had accumulated to a height of 82 cm in Horokanai in northern Hokkaido and 14 cm in Iida, Nagano Prefecture.
The snowfall, while only listed in Tokyo as a “small accumulation” disrupted traffic and electricity consumption in the capital was more than 95 percent of its supply capacity given the high demand for heating.
Injuries were also reported in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, including people who slipped on snowy roads and suffered fractured bones, according to firefighters and other authorities.
East Japan Railway said services on the Ome and Chuo lines were suspended due to snow-laden tree branches that had sagged over the tracks.
The year’s first snowfall came 49 days earlier than it had last year – and also 40 days earlier than in any typical year. Other cities in eastern Japan, like Yokohama, also experienced snow. Just four days ago, Tokyo had basked in the weekend sunshine with temperatures hovering around 15 to 20 deg C.