“first accumulation in November since 1875, when such observations began”
At least 13 people were injured on Nov. 24 after central Tokyo, Yokohama and Kofu, capital of Yamanashi Prefecture, experienced their first snowfalls in November in 54 years.
The injuries, including broken bones in four cases, were reported in the capital and Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures. They were mainly caused by falls on slippery surfaces.
The snow caused extensive delays on private railways in the Tokyo area. Services on some sections of the JR Chuo and Ome lines were temporarily halted because tree branches weighed down by the snow were at risk of touching wires along the tracks.
Although much of the snow immediately melted in central Tokyo, enough of the white stuff remained on the ground for the first accumulation in November since 1875, when such observations began.
Snow also accumulated on the ground in Mito, capital of Ibaraki Prefecture, for the first time in November since 1897.
The first snow of the season in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward landed around 6:15 a.m. on Nov. 24, 40 days earlier than usual and 49 days ahead of last year’s date, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
According to records, the earliest day snow has hit central Tokyo is Nov. 17, in 1900.
The snow in and around Kanto was caused by a cold air mass, similar to ones seen in mid-winter, hovering over the region as low atmospheric pressure accompanying a front line moved east on the morning of Nov. 24, the agency said.
Snow also fell in Hokkaido and other regions that are more accustomed to snow. By 9 a.m., snow had accumulated to a height of 82 cm in Horokanai in northern Hokkaido and 14 cm in Iida, Nagano Prefecture.
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Average temperatures at this time of year are highs of 14 degrees Celsius and rose as far as 20C as recently as Sunday.
“I was shocked,” said Masaru Machida, who had just finished night shift work and was walking home. “It’s too early.”
Though Tokyo, which is on roughly the same latitude as the US city of Raleigh, North Carolina, does see snow at least once a year, it usually falls in January or February and rarely accumulates for long.