Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tornado Near Tokyo Kills One, Injures Dozens

A relatively rare tornado spun up over the weekend in Japan, about 40 miles northeast of Tokyo in the city of Tsukuba, killing a 14 year old and injuring dozens as it ripped through the Japanese town.

The Daily Telegraph (from the UK) reported on the tornado, stating that "dramatic television footage from the city revealed how houses were swept up in the storm from their foundations, causing cars to overturn in muddy debris and concrete power poles to tumble. Hundreds of houses suffered from broken windows, with aerial images also showing many properties with their roofs entirely blown away in the storm."

This tornado resulted in the disruption of power to 24,000 households throughout the track of the storm and the loss of some greenhouses in Fukushima prefecture, home to the destroyed power plant in the March 2011 earthquake.

Tornadoes are relatively rare in Japan -- with an average of 15 per year according to the Japan Meterological Agency, as reported by Dr. Jeff Masters at Wunderground.com.  Most of these occur in tropical cyclones, which often swipe through Japan in some fashion each year.  As the tropical cyclone approaches or makes landfall in Japan, weak spin up tornadoes can result.  In this case, no tropical cyclone was in the vicinity...this tornado was due to thunderstorms in association with a cool front nearby and low pressure to the west.