EXTREME WEATHER

In pictures: Tokyo’s first November snowfall in 54 years, residents slog to work in heavy coats and boots

The last time snow fell in November in Tokyo, John F. Kennedy was President of the United States

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 12:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 9:54pm

Snow fell in Tokyo and other parts of eastern Japan Thursday, the first snowfall in November in the capital in 54 years, with the unusually cold snap disrupting traffic and spiking electricity demand.

The last time snow fell in November in Tokyo, John F. Kennedy was President of the United States and singer Bob Dylan - who this year won the Nobel Literature Prize - had released his debut album just months before.

The snow, which began as sleet around dawn but turned to snow soon after, was sparked by an unusual cold front spreading over the Tokyo area that sent temperatures down to near zero degrees Celsius.

Average temperatures at this time of year are highs of 14 degrees Celsius and rose as far as 20 degrees Celsius as recently as Sunday.

“I was shocked,” said Masaru Machida, who had just finished night shift work and was walking home. “It’s too early.”

Though Tokyo does see snow at least once a year, it usually falls in January or February and rarely accumulates for long.

As much as 2 cm of snow was predicted for central Tokyo by the time the snow stops, likely by early afternoon, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

East Japan Railway Co. said services on parts of the Ome and Chuo lines were suspended as snow-laden tree branches sagged over the tracks. Trains on other lines such as Seibu and Keio also saw delays, operators said.

According to the meteorological agency, a front moved eastward near the Izu Islands Chain, and a cold air mass with a minus 3 degrees Celsius temperature at an altitude of around 1,500 metres was spreading over the Kanto region including Tokyo.

Reuters and Kyodo