Tokyo, Yokohama warm up as Japan's north faces blizzards, snowstorms

The Japan Meteorological Agency attributed the warmer temperatures in the Greater Tokyo area to a "warm front from the south". PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - While people in Japan's north are bundled up in thick clothing as the mercury plummets, triggering weather warnings on Tuesday (Jan 9), those in Tokyo and Yokohama are feeling spring-like temperatures of 18 deg C.

In the capital, many among the lunchtime crowd ditched their thick winter wear and went out in suits instead. Several runners pounding the pavement in 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 (10am in Singapore), the highest recorded temperatures in Chiba (east of Tokyo) was 15.2 deg C, 14.4 deg C in Maebashi (north of Tokyo), and 12.3 deg C in central Tokyo.

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

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

Meanwhile, the JMA also warned of a rapidly developing low pressure system and strong winter atmospheric conditions that could bring gale-force winds to northern Japan in conditions that are expected to last until Friday (Jan 12).

Maximum wind speeds are expected to reach 25 metres per second (m/s) in Hokkaido, 23m/s in the Tohoku region that includes Fukushima, and 22m/s in the Hokuriku region that borders the Sea of Japan/East Sea.

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, weather warnings for snowstorms were in effect in Hokkaido and Yamagata, while blizzard warnings were in effect in six prefectures including Aomori in the north and Fukushima in the north-east.

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