Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Hamnet Weekly report 3 March 2013

To many of us in South Africa, and especially with winter not too far away, the odd sprinkling of snow gets all of us excited, the cameras clicking and much fun building that snowman with a carrot for a nose – or whatever is available at that moment in time.

A few centimetres of snow creates that sort of excitement locally – but have you ever considered a snowfall measuring 5.5m – yes 5 and a half metres of snow (18 feet) in one fall?

This was the case in Northern Japan this week when one snowfall broke all previous records when it comes to heavy snowfalls.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, a BBC reporter made an exceptional trip to a place called Aomon, in northern Japan, to see for himself, what 18 feet of snow looks like and photographs to prove it!

By the time he got to a little hot springs resort called Sukayu, he was actually driving through a canyon of ice on either side of him with a road so narrow; only one vehicle at a time could negotiate the road.

When he got to the resort, he could not believe his eyes. Some houses had completely disappeared under the snow and unfortunately some roofs had collapsed simply due to the sheer weight of snow on the roof!

Driving a little further, he actually came across a 77 year old lady who had climbed on to her house and was shovelling snow off the roof to prevent the roof collapsing!

The old lady, quite chirpy and full of bounce, indicated that she has lived in this village all her life and had never, ever seen such a fall of snow! Even to most of the other villagers, this was something they had never experienced before!

Across Japan, at least 13 other places had broken all previous records when it comes to snow falls and one wonders if this is yet another quirk of nature or our ever changing weather patterns around the world.

Although precipitation or normal rainfall during this period of time was almost on a par with previous records, the difference was the much lower winter temperatures.

One recalls in March two years ago when Rescue South Africa – also around this time – sent a team to Japan to help with search and recovery after the quake and tsunami of 11 March but fortunately they did not have to contend with having to dig through 5 metres of snow to do a search & rescue!

One simply wonders what is in store for most of the earth with this ever changing weather pattern that never fails to surprise us.

Reporting for Hamnet, this is Francois Botha, ZS6BUU.

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