Browse By

Tokyo snow is a no-show

As we continue to recover from Wednesday’s impressive storm, we should all remember that not that long ago, we were lamenting the fact that global warming had killed our winter. But winter did come, and with an icy blast we should have expected but didn’t.

Meanwhile, 10,000 kilometres away in Tokyo, winter still hasn’t shown up. The city’s winter has been snowless so far. The Japanese capital has not waited this long for its first snowfall since records started in 1876, Agence France-Press reported this week. The wait for white stuff smashes a 47-year-old record (in 1960, the first snow didn’t fall until Feb. 10).

The unusual lack of the snow is hitting many Tokyo businesses hard, with some retailers feeling the heat more than others. Sales of winter clothes and heating devices have been slow. Recreational options for the snow going public are also rapidly melting away.

With no snow of its own, Tokyo had some shipped in from northern Japan for a children’s festival that took place last Sunday; officials scrambled to keep it from melting. Similar stories of missed parka sales and cancelled snow festivals can be found all over Japan.

The unusual warmth and shortage of powder have had the added unfortunate impact of shutting down ski resorts around Tokyo, evoking recent and painful memories for skiers and boarders in and around Toronto.

Here at home, all musings on when winter would arrive have long since disappeared, sent shivering into the cruel wind. Our first real cold blast hit Toronto on the night of Dec. 7, when the temperature dropped to a brisk -11.1C. But temperatures quickly warmed back up, and only one more night of double digit negative numbers chilled us that month. December also gave us only 1.4 centimetres of snow, well below the average snowfall of 29.2 cm. January fell well short of the average snowfall, too.

After the initial shock of two frigid nights, Toronto was spoiled for more than a month. Winter only really got serious on Jan. 26, when the mercury dipped to -15.8C.

From the unexpected heat before mid-January to the bitter cold and snow storms afterwards, it has truly been a tale of two winters for Toronto. But what if the cold never snapped? Is Tokyo’s snowless expanse a taste of our warmer winters to come?

National Post
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Page: TO7
Section: Toronto
Byline: Philip Alves
Column: Meanwhile ... How other world cities are faring