Tokyo Experiences Snowfall in November after 54 Years

January 25, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. occurrence / əˈkɜr əns / (n.) – something that happens
Example: The concert is cancelled because of an unexpected occurrence.

2. accumulation / əˌkyu myəˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – the building up or gathering of something
Example: There is an accumulation of snow over our roof.

3. pavement / ˈpeɪv mənt / (n.) – a surface, such as roads or streets, made of leveled concrete, bricks, etc.
Example:  The park management asks everyone to keep off the grass and walk on the pavement.

4. surge / sɜrdʒ / (n.) – a sudden rise or increase in something
Example: The temperature in the room surged when the heater malfunctioned.

5. demand / dɪˈmænd / (n.) – the need for something
Example: The demand for winter clothes rise every December.


Read the text below.
Tokyo has experienced November snowfall for the first time in 54 years.

In Tokyo, snow usually falls around December to February. Snowfall is rare in the area, occurring only around once or twice a year. Therefore, residents of the city were shocked when the snowfall came too early in 2016.

According to Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the last time Tokyo witnessed November snowfall was in 1962, when there were no skyscrapers in the city yet. Experts from JMA said that the occurrence was caused by a blanket of unusually cold air that spread over the Tokyo Area. The air also caused huge drops in temperature in other parts of Northeast Asia.

Some residents welcomed the unexpected occurrence with delight by taking pictures of the snow and posting them on social media. On the other hand, the event also caused accumulation of snow on the city’s pavements, which later left the concrete slippery and prone to accidents.

The local media reported more than 40 snow-related injuries. Some of the residents suffered fractured bones from accidents on the slippery roads. The sudden snowfall also caused major delays to numerous commuters, as train and subway operations were temporarily halted in some parts of Tokyo. 

In addition, the city’s electricity provider said that the drop in temperature caused a great surge in Tokyo’s electricity consumption due to the rise in demand for heating.

According to meteorologist Robert Speta, Metro Tokyo is not built for such events because snow is rare in the area. The city’s roads and streets are narrow, and snow removal is not very common in the area. Because of these reasons, the city is not prepared for sudden instances of heavy snowfall.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, what are the other dangers of heavy snowfall?
·         If you were a resident of Tokyo, what would you do to prepare for sudden snowfall?

Discussion B

·         What should people do when unexpected natural phenomena (e.g. blizzards, storms) occur?
·         What preparations should the government have for unexpected natural phenomena?

January 25, 2017