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Second, and Heavier, Snowstorm Hits Tokyo Area. All-time snow depth records set

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:27 PM GMT on February 14, 2014

Second, and Heavier, Snowstorm Hits Tokyo Area. All-time snow depth records set

As the eastern U.S. digs out of its biggest snowstorm of the season (see Jeff Masters blog on the subject) another snowstorm has hit Tokyo, Japan this Friday-Saturday (February 14-15), the 2nd big snow to hit the city in the span of just a week. Early reports say that 27 cm (10.6”) of snow has fallen in downtown Tokyo as of 2 a.m., February 15th local time. However, extraordinary snowfalls of up to 42" have fallen in sites in the far suburbs (50 mile radius) of the city, doubling previous all-time records.



This generalized map of average January snowfall in Japan illustrates how rare it is that more than 10 cm (4”) falls anywhere south of Sendai at low elevations along the eastern shoreline of Honshu Island. Map from Teikoku’s ‘Complete Atlas of Japan’.

Snowstorm of February 8-9

Today’s 27 cm was about the same amount that was measured during the storm of February 8th last week which was 22-27 cm (there are discrepencies in the METARS for that day), which apparently may have been the heaviest snowfall in the downtown area for 45 years (since 30 cm/11.8” fell on March 12, 1969). During the February 8-9 event up to 50 cm (20”) was reported in some areas of greater Tokyo. Notable snowfalls during last week’s (February 8-9) storm included 35 cm (13.8”) at Sendai (about 200 miles north of Tokyo on the eastern coast), its heaviest snowfall since 41 cm (16.1”) on February 9, 1936, Ishinomaki (about 20 miles up the coast from Sendai) picked up 38 cm (15.0”), its deepest since 43 cm (16.9”) on February 17, 1923, and Chiba (across Tokyo Bay from Tokyo) with 33 cm (13”), its deepest fall on record but the POR only goes back to 1966 at that site.

Snowstorm of February 14-15: Greatest Snowstorm on Record for Tokyo Region

It is quite rare to have heavy snowfalls east of the mountain ranges on Honshu Island (as the map above illustrates) and in downtown Tokyo especially. The deepest snow on record for the city was 46 cm (18.1”) measured on February 8, 1883 (this is a depth record, not necessarily a single snowstorm record). So with the 27 cm (10.6”) that has fallen today, following a similar amount just six days ago, this is truly an exceptional event.



A couple stroll through a park in downtown Tokyo at the beginning of the Valentine’s Day snowstorm. Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi.

Unlike the storm of February 8-9, this latest storm has apparently broken some all-time snowfall records at other locations in the greater Tokyo region. These include 112 cm (44.0”) at Kofu City, Yamashi Prefecture (50 miles west of Tokyo) of which 106 cm (41.7”) fell in just 24 hours. This has obliterated the previous record of 49 cm (19.3”) set on January 15, 1998 (POR goes back to 1894!). Maebashi (50 miles NW of Tokyo) picked up a record 73 cm (28.7”)--71 cm of which fell in just 24 hours-- surpassing the previous record of 37 cm (14.6”) set on February 26, 1945 (POR to 1896). Chichibu (30 miles NW of Tokyo) received 98 cm (38.6”)--92 cm (36.2") in 24 hours-- smashing the old record of 58 cm (22.8”) set on February 14, 1928 (POR since 1926), and Kawaguchiko (a mountainous site 50 miles west of Tokyo) ended up with an astonishing 112 cm (44.1") cm (56.3”)--of which 102 cm (40.2") fell in 24 hours) surpassing their former record of 89 cm (35.0”) set on January 15, 1998 (POR since 1933). Many other sites also broke their all-time records for single storm and 24-hour totals. The margins of the new record snowfalls over the previous records for the sites listed above are simply staggering.

Needless to say, the heavy snowfall in the greater Tokyo region has resulted in many flight cancellations and delays of commuter rail lines. The Nissan Motor plant in Yokohama (just south of Tokyo) asked its workers to go home early on Friday, an almost unheard of event.

The storm has wound down today (Saturday, February 15th in Japan) so the snowfall statistics are still preliminary.

KUDOS: Japanese climate expert Mr. Yusuke Uemura for the snowfall statistics for both storms.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Snow

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

The statistics should be corrected, because they are mixing total snow depth, with single snowstorm accumulation with total monthy accumulation.
This is NOT a record event, in 1994 27cm fell and accumulated in single snowstowm and in 1984 the sum of total accumulations was bigger than now.
Yesterday there was NO snow on the ground in Tokyo (past snowfall was already melted) so you can't sum the 22cm and the 27cm to make a snow depth, because the real correct snow depth is 0+22=22cm and now 0+27cm=27cm, the first snow was gone already
About the monthly total accumulation 1984 is ahead of 2014 anyway, so there is no record anyway in any kind of statistics so far.
But the season in not over: March can still see snowfalls in Tokyo.
the snow depth of 27cm ranks in 8th position togther with 1994 and 1925.
You can't sum snow which was already melted with a later snowfall.
This would sum in the monthly total depth of snow record, which still belongs to January 1984 but it could be beaten if there will be more snow accumulation
I never stated the snow depth in Tokyo exceeded 27 cm. It may tie the 1994 event, but the last time a greater depth recorded was in 1969.

Quoting 2. maxcrc:
the snow depth of 27cm ranks in 8th position togther with 1994 and 1925.
You can't sum snow which was already melted with a later snowfall.
This would sum in the monthly total depth of snow record, which still belongs to January 1984 but it could be beaten if there will be more snow accumulation
The 8th February snowfall is given as 22cm instead 27cm which could be the result of 5cm of snow drifted by wind

http://www.data.jma.go.jp/obd/stats/etrn/view/hou rly_s1.php?prec_no=44&block_no=47662&year=2014&mon th=02&day=8&view=p1

We can see it at 6pm, 5cm further accumulated without any snow reported accumulation

In fact,

http://www.data.jma.go.jp/obd/stats/etrn/view/ran k_s.php?prec_no=44&block_no=47662&year=1994&month= &day=&view=

The total daily snow depth is given at 22cm.

So we have :
1- highest snow depth, we are far from the 46cm record.

2- monthly total snow depth: 40cm, we are far from the January 1984 record, but still in time to beat it

3- seasonal snow depth, very far from the 1983-1984 record

4-daily snow accumulation: 22cm , not a record since 1969, since 12 Feb 1994 saw 27cm

5-instantaneous snow depth: this doesn t necessary match with the #4 since snow can keep accumulating while the snow on the ground is melting or drifted away by wind, in this case, the 27cm (with wind drift accumulation) would be the highest since 1969

This is for Tokyo Downtown.

Edited: the discrepancy between 22cm and 27cm in the two tables might come from two missing hourly snow accumulation of 2 2 (total given in snow melted)cm.
additional information about the snowdepth and the snowfall totals of the storm at Tokyo.

1) 12 Feb 1994
Snowfall total was 27cm but the maximum snowdepth on the ground was 23cm.
This is explained by the way JMA used to measure snowfall amount before 2005.

Snowboard was then used to measure snow accumulation at 9:00,15:00 and 21:00 (3 times a day),
and the readings of the day was 7cm at 9:00, 15cm at 15:00 and 5cm at 21:00 which totals 27cm.
But as you can see in the table below (which is unfortunately in Japanese), snowdepth on the ground
was 7cm at 9:00, 21cm at 15:00 and 23cm at 21:00.
This should be mostly due to compaction and melting. Thus the snowdepth on the ground did not reach 27cm.

http://www.data.jma.go.jp/obd/stats/etrn/view/hou rly_s1.php?prec_no=44&block_no=47662&year=1994&mon th=02&day=12&view=p1

2) 8-9 Feb 2014
Snowdepth on the ground was 27cm (which was measured manually).
Snowfall amount was not measured properly due to a malfunction of snow depth sensor.
After 2006, snowboard is no more used and snowfall amount is calculated on the basis of
diffirence in snowdepth measured by a snow depth sensor (ultrasonic or photoelectric).
At 17:00 on 8 Feb 2014 the snow depth sensor suddenly went wrong, and snowdepth data at 17:00
went missing. After 18:00, JMA managed to measure snowdepth manually (which reaches 27cm)
but the snowfall totals of the storm was not reviewed and it's "22cm with missing data".
Here you can see some images of the 100cm/day snowfall in Kofu City area.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL9U37g2kzs#t=244
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNqv1G6eA5A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzG8E6_CBHs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMTdEEUqriI
Hi Yusuke

The U.S. TV program 'The Weather Channel' urgently would like to broadcast the last video link you sent:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMTdEEUqriI

Can you please send me your email address and a contact email for Tomoshi Imai who made the footage.
Urgent!

As you probably know 100 million U.S. residents watch the Weather Channel.


Quoting 6. yusuke2006:
Here you can see some images of the 100cm/day snowfall in Kofu City area.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL9U37g2kzs#t=244
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNqv1G6eA5A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzG8E6_CBHs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMTdEEUqriI
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