Last week’s extreme snow accumulation in Japan featured on the Asia pages of the BBC news website.
The video report ends by alluding to the ‘Extreme Weather’ mantra
“People here are well equipped for dealing with snow, but even they are wondering what on Earth is going on with their weather.”
However, here’s a simple truth at the tail end of the article:
Across northern Japan, 13 places have broken all previous snow records this year. Is it a freak, one-off year?
Or, as some have suggested, is it another result of global warming?
Significantly the total amount of precipitation over northern Japan this winter is about the same as normal. The big difference has been the temperature. This winter has been a lot colder than usual.
That means more precipitation has fallen as snow instead of rain, and that once it has landed hasn’t melted. So the snow has built up and up and up.
The article reports 5.5m of snow in the mountains – twice as much as normally accumulates. Rainfall for Aomori (at sea level on the coast) seems to be ~150mm in December, ~150mm in January and ~100mm in February. Rough rule of thumb 100mm rain= 100cm snow; total 400cm or 4m on average.
The climate change spin is of course that warmth in the Arctic due to warming is pushing the cold further south, but the only thing that’s up with the weather at more temperate latitudes is that cold is the new warm.