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2nd appearance of La Nina may portend frigid winter for Japan

24 Comments

While warm temperatures have lingered into late November, Friday (Dec 2) reports that an unusually cold winter may soon be in store for Japan.

On Nov 10, Japan's Meteorological Agency announced it had confirmed the year's second La Nina. The counterpart to El Nino, La Nina results in cooler than average surface temperatures across the equatorial central Pacific Ocean.

"This is resulting in a rise in temperature in the oceans adjacent to Southeast Asia, which is generating moist air and producing cumulonimbus clouds," says Koji Murayama of the Japan Meteorological Business Support Center.

La Nina had appeared in summer 2010, and its effects continued through to spring of this year. The occurrence of a La Nina twice in one year is said to be extremely rare; in fact this marks the first time for such a phenomena to happen since the agency began compiling statistics in 1949.

"One effect of the moist air has been higher air pressures in the northern part of the Indochina peninsula, which are pushing the prevailing westerly winds northward in a zigzag direction," says Murayama. "This zigzagging can be expected push cold air toward Japan."

Murayama believes another factor that is expected to cause Japan's temperatures to drop is the Arctic oscillation.

"Air pressure around the north pole is higher than average years, while the pressure around Japan is lower," he explains. "This will permit large cold-air systems to travel southward. In December, there will be a conspicuous chill extending from eastern parts of Japan to the west. Average temperatures will be lower than normal years, with cold days alternating with warm ones, on a recurring basis."

Of particular concern are people in disaster-hit areas in the Tohoku region, which are still being housed in temporary facilities. Preparations for winter in Miyagi Prefecture, in particular, are said to have been lagging. According to the results of a survey made public at the end of September, the percentage of homes in Miyagi equipped with insulation, double window panes, and an inside foyer at the front door, to block winds and snow, are lower than in Iwate or Fukushima.

"Last May was quite frigid," recalls Kesenuma City resident Sadakatsu Utsumi, who is still living in temporary housing. "I couldn't stand it, so I purchased a 'kotatsu' (sunken table with a built-in electric heating unit). The place where I worked was wiped out by the tsunami and I've got no job, and no prospects. To hold down power costs, I don't use the heater, and keep my coat on indoors."

Another elderly couple near Ishinomaki City complained about the location of the temporary shelter where they've been relocated.

"This isn't a place for people to live," one said. "The winds here are strong all the time, and our house only gets four hours of sunshine per day. The laundry doesn't dry. And work installing insulation isn't finished yet ... When I think of what's ahead of us, it's really disheartening."

The Miyagi prefectural disaster center told Friday's reporter it had started cold-weather preparations on 22,000 temporary units in the prefecture from Oct 24, and began distribution of electric stoves from mid-October.

"We expected to be able to finish up all our current jobs around Dec 20," a construction firm operator tells the magazine. "But work on perhaps half of them will run over into the new year."

Last March 11, it was still winter when many Tohoku residents lost their homes to the earthquake and tsunami. Now it's starting to look like they'll have to suffer through yet another frigid winter in temporary shelters.

© Japan Today

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24 Comments
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Tohoku is trapped between "El Nino and La Nina" and Adam and Eve living there are in trouble? I think article is about lack of proper facilities at temporary shelters if so it's not under jurisdiction of Japan Meteorological Agency.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

And how much weight gain does a "kotatsu" cause? I have absolutely banned them in my house. Get up and move.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Global warming is really misnamed, isn't it?

Not looking forward to the cold winter. My house, also, doesn't have insulation. It may be time to move, if there is indeed any housing with insulation available that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Seems to be that the climatologist, especially those harping on about global warming use these catch all phrases of "El Nino' and "La Nina" to cover up their consistently wrong predictions.

The only certainty in Climate Science seems to be that the climatologists are always wrong and their predictions are useless.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The only certainty in Climate Science seems to be that the climatologists are always wrong and their predictions are useless.

I see you do not know the basic difference between "climate" and "weather".

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

What's Winter like in Japan cold or mild, or in between Spring and Winter, James in US, Arkansas..

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Not another cold winter. Last year we didn't have +Celsius temperatures for about a month up here in the northern wastelands. James, it depends where you go. Freezing cold in the north and mild in the south, about 10-15C in Tokyo

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Foxie

about 10-15C in Tokyo

Which nonetheless, the lipless harpies in my office will swear blind is very very cold indeed. They're wearing wooly scarves in there this week, when the thermometer on my desk read 27.5 degrees. Just as well we only have to save energy in the summer months, eh?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

My winter 5mm suit can handle the water. It is when the surfing session is done that things get chilly. Stripping down to a bathing suit can get nippy. People wearing winter gear walk by us and think we are all crazy, but actually the water is quite warm.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

It said that the season arrives two month late in the sea, meaning there is a time lag in water temperature lowering then air temperature due to current, etc..

When I was scuba divining I always thought March was the coldest in the water.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I am ready in Tokyo for winter with my amazing Daikin heater. That said, let's see what we can do for the folks up north this winter.........

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This will also be terrible for all the animal search and rescue groups still working in the Fukushima exclusion zone.

I wish them luck, they are already getting freezing temperature and snow up there.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

James Howard, here in Japan, it really depends where in Japan you are, Okinawa?? Hokkaido?? Tokyo??

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

La niña, the little girl in Español, oops, Spanish is a very interesting weather fenomena?? I hate English spelling!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

NeverSubmitNov. 26, 2011 - 11:43AM JST Seems to be that the climatologist, especially those harping on about global warming use these catch all phrases of "El Nino' and "La Nina" to cover up their consistently wrong predictions.

No. The el nino and la nina cycle has been understood for years. They have become more pronounced as the Southern Pacific warms up.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This seems contrary to what is posted on the JMA site. http://www.jma.go.jp/en/longfcst/000_1_10.html shows that while it's cooler in southern Japan, normal for central Japan, and warmer for northern Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

El Niño and La Niña are actually quite interesting in that they started back in Perú many years ago and well it really messes up our weather all over the world if it is a El Niño year or a La niña year but we should not blame it on Perú, just Mother Nature right??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

James Howard, here in Japan, it really depends where in Japan you are, Okinawa?? Hokkaido?? Tokyo??

If you read his post you would see where he is from. His is a fair question really for someone who doesnt live here or know.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, Global Warming has a few odd results. The oddest is probably that Europe will cool quite a bit in general once Global Warming redirects or even kills the Gulf Stream. While that is indeed a "climate phenomenon", El Nino and El Nina are local weather patterns (even though local is rather extended). They get enhanced by Global Warming. Kids learn this at school nowadays...

Still, with the exception of Hokkaido and Tohoku, winter in Japan is very mild. It is the lack of proper insulation or double-layered windows, why it seems to be cold here. And in some cases, it is just wrong clothing. Or people being too soft. After all, leaving a room at 27 degrees and going into the air at 15 degrees is quite a temperature drop - like in summer, when the JR trains are 15 degrees cooler than the outside.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"weatherman" is a just fancy word for charlatan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Climate theories come and go like the wind.

The computer models that are used are rigged to produce whatever results the researchers want.

30 years ago all the "climate experts" were touting global cooling. Whatever happened to that theory?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Global warming ha, should be "Global WarNing" to everyone that the scientists/politicians are trying to pull the wool over your eyes with the planet is gettting warmer rubbish. All in the name of increasing taxes, carbon tax etc etc it's alot of old bunkem really.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These winter news stories always bring out the global warming conspiracy nuts. The facts are the world is warming, climate is changing, and the science points to a human origin.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Johannes Weber Nov. 29, 2011 - 10:45PM JST

Still, with the exception of Hokkaido and Tohoku, winter in Japan is very mild. It is the lack of proper insulation or double-layered windows, why it seems to be cold here. And in some cases, it is just wrong clothing. Or people being too soft. After all, leaving a room at 27 degrees and going into the air at 15 degrees is quite a temperature drop - like in summer, when the JR trains are 15 degrees cooler than the outside.

At least in Hokkaido they build their homes for the weather - if they didn't there'd be mass fatalities every winter. In Tohoku we get homes built to the same standards as the rest of Japan - madness.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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