Thursday, February 2, 2012

Japan Has Heaviest Snow in Five Years - At Least 52 Dead - One Steel Bridge Collapsed

The news about the worst winter storm to hit Japan in five years with a still rising death toll has hit Japan.

Photos taken within last 24 hours

Heavy snowfall has crippled much of Japan’s western coast, killing more than 50 people and injuring nearly 600. The worst snowstorm in six years has dumped more than 10 feet of snow in the hardest-hit regions, causing at least one bridge to collapse and forcing school closures across the region.

Western Japan has been battered by one snowstorm after another since the beginning of the year, overwhelming cash-strapped cities struggling to keep up with cleanup efforts.  In the Niigata Prefecture, officials said nearly half of their 30 cities had run out of funds set aside snow removal. Further north in the Aomori Prefecture, the government had already applied for additional funds from Tokyo, after draining its budget.

The important point to note is that this fierce winter storm is not just limited to Japan. It is stretching across all of Asia, China, Korea and Eastern Europe.

In the Ukraine, the cold was 33 degrees centigrade below zero (-27.4 F) the coldest it's been in six years. More than 40 people have died there along with Eastern Europe and the cold weather strikes. In Ukraine, which killed more than 40 people. In Poland, at least 20 are dead; in Rumania 14 have died and there are 8 dead in Bulgaria as well as deaths reported in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina. At least 80 people have died and authorities in Europe, as well as Japan, expect more cold and snow in the coming days.  

That huge snowstorms hit all across the world in wintertime should not be a surprise nor even newsworthy. But this coming just after the snowstorms in the USA and now today's storm in East Europe and Asia, should cause those of us who can remember what we were told more than ten years ago to scoff.

To refresh your memory, let us not forget the Monday March 20, 2000 article that ran in the Independent UK that was entitled: Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past:

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London's last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.

Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. 

Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties. (emphasis mine)

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers(again emphasis mine) According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

Oh really? Interestingly enough, just two days ago, without much fanfare, the the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia released information that showed no global warming in 15 years. Some people will claim "cherry picking results" but I wonder how measuring the nineties (ten years) versus the last 15 years wouldn't also be considered said "Cherry picking"?

Intelligent people on either side of the argument (believers and disbelievers) should like to have an answer to that question, I would imagine.

NOTE: If you want to see awesome photos of how much it snows in Toyama, Japan every year, see: Global Warming Strikes Toyama Japan!


chris lam said...

i said it before in one of my comments and i'll say it again. these "extreme" weather phenomenons will continue to happen. europe has had 90 deaths due to overly extreme cold temps so far this winter. the lower 48 states in the usa have had record warm temps and extremely low snowfall. i guess eventually the extremes wont be so extreme anymore and normal.

Andrew Joseph said...

It snowed 5cm in Toronto on January 31, 2012. Was 8C on Feb. 1 and is now 1C on February 2.
That was maybe the third minor bit of snow this winter and I'm wearing a short-sleeve shirt.
Not sure what is up with the winter, but there are always deviations from the norm. Now... if it is like this for a second winter in a row... then maybe we can start to think something is up.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Chris, Andrew,
Yes. Cosnidering the fact that weather recording (keeping track of temperatures, etc) is claimed have begun in 1878 at a US weather station (I'm sure, like the aeroplane, the Brits, Germans, Italians, French, etc, will claim they were the first - and probably were) that means weather recording is about 130 years old. In man's self-important belief in himself as all knowing th think that these weather events of the last 100 years are "extreme2 when considered over the 4 billion year old life of the earth is a bit absurd, wouldn't you think? I think it is a very safe bet that it will get a lot hotter and a lot colder and there's not a whole hell of a lot that we (covering less than 4% of the earth's surface) can do about it. Enjoy it while you can. It's the only life you're gonna get. You know, they used to grow grapes and have vineyards in Scotland and Greenland 7 hundreds of years ago.... Not anymore they don't

chris lam said...

mike. i think that's kinda what i was saying. they've happened in the past and they'll continue to happen. actually, we don't need weather recording to get a good understanding of climate changes throughout the history of earth. it's there in the soil, rocks, trees... anyway, we humans are only here for a short ride.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Oh yes, Chris. I see. Yes. You're right. Thanks!!!!

Anonymous said...

Gee, let me see. Oh, Yeah right... Global Warming.... The best computer weather modeling systems can do a decent display of predicting 4 days (usually 3 out of 4 - not bad) days of weather. I don't know how someone can surely think that it is possible to predict weather 10 or 20 years or more into the future. It is a fact and we do know that the earth's climate has changed many times in the roughly 7.5 billion years it has been in existence. Disastrous events like meteor strikes, ice ages, etc. may have some temporary effects, but the earth still stabilizes. I think it is the ultimate hubris of people to imagine that us puny humans can have any real long term affect on the earth's climate.

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