From one extreme to the other in Japan

While people in Japan's north are all bundled up as the mercury plummets, triggering weather warnings yesterday, those in Tokyo and Yokohama are feeling spring-like temperatures of 18 deg C.

In the capital, many among the lunchtime crowd had ditched their winter wear in favour of suits. Several runners pounding the pavement along the 5km route around the Imperial Palace were seen in T-shirts and shorts.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) attributed the warmer temperatures in the Greater Tokyo area, which saw its first snowfall of the season on New Year's Eve, to a "warm front from the south".

As at 11am, the highest recorded temperatures were 15.2 deg C in Chiba (east of Tokyo), 14.4 deg C in Maebashi (north of Tokyo), and 12.3 deg C in central Tokyo.

The mercury was expected to rise to as high as 18 deg C in central Tokyo and 17 deg C in Yokohama - south of Tokyo - by the afternoon.

The JMA warned that higher temperatures in the region could lead to avalanches in areas that typically encounter heavy snow.

The agency also warned of a rapidly-developing low pressure system and strong winter atmospheric conditions that could bring gale-force winds to northern Japan.

Snowfall of up to 50cm is expected in areas in Hokuriku, and up to 40cm in many areas in Hokkaido and Tohoku, the JMA added.

As at 2pm yesterday, weather warnings for snowstorms were in effect in Hokkaido and Yamagata, while blizzard warnings were in effect in six prefectures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'From one extreme to the other in Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe