Hundreds of record highs broken as Japan bakes under historic heat wave
In the midst of temperatures soaring in the upper 90s, the Japanese Meteorological Agency declared the rainy season over on June 27, the earliest since record-keeping began in 1951.
An unprecedented early-season heat wave in Japan has placed a significant strain on residents and the power grid alike over the past week. AccuWeather meteorologists say relief is on the way, but not before the region endures several more days of scorching conditions.
From June 23 to June 28, 263 record high temperatures were shattered across the country, including more than half a dozen all-time record highs.
On Tuesday, June 28, the cities of Toyota, Katsunuma and Tajimi all set new high marks for June with highs of 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit (38-39 degrees Celsius).
The country continued to sizzle on Wednesday as 15 percent of the nation record its hottest June day on record.
Workers sat in dimly lit offices in the country's capital early this week in an effort to conserve energy. Outside, pedestrians on the streets used umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun's intense rays, while others splashed through sprinklers to cool down.
Wednesday marked the fifth consecutive day that Tokyo experienced highs in excess of 95 F (35 C), a first for the month of June. Over 70 people were taken to city hospitals to be treated for heat-related illnesses, according to Reuters.
Heat persisted on Thursday and sent more than 100 people in Tokyo to the hospital with heat stroke, according to Reuters.
Even in the early stages of the heat wave, records were being shattered. Last Saturday, June 25, the city of Isesaki faced scorching conditions with a high of 104 F (40.2 C), setting a new country record for June. The hottest it had previously been during the month was 103.6 F (39.8 C) on June 24, 2011. National weather records date back to 1875.
"A strong area of high pressure at all levels of the atmosphere is responsible for the ongoing heat wave," AccuWeather Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls said.
The persistent high has allowed the heat to build up for days as conditions remain largely dry.
Experts point to a short rainy season as being a contributing factor to the early-season sizzle. Tokyo recorded its shortest rainy season since records of that annual meteorological event started being kept in 1951. The rainy season was officially pronounced over on June 27, which is three weeks shorter than average.
The strain on residents, visitors and infrastructure alike may have many wondering when any heat relief will arrive.
"The heat wave should hold through at least Friday as the high remains in control," Nicholls said, adding that there are indications of the heat wave breaking beyond that point.
"There can be some relief into southwest Japan on Saturday as moisture from a tropical rainstorm forming northwest of Palau lifts northward. There is the potential this feature can become a tropical storm near the Ryukyu Islands Friday or this weekend," Nicholls said.
Cooler, rainy weather is then expected to spread northeastward across the country during the early to middle part of next week, putting an official end to the intense heat.
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