A city in Kochi Prefecture recorded the highest-ever temperature in Japan on Monday afternoon, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). The thermometer recorded 41.0 degrees celsius in Shimanto City at around 1:42PM (local time), beating the previous high of 40.9 degrees celsius recorded in August of 2007. This is part of a record-setting heat wave seen across North Asia the past few days, which has strained power grids, raised concerns about water supplies, and in Japan, killed four residents over the weekend.
According to the JMA, this extreme weather is due to southerly winds that are funneled by a Pacific high pressure system. The heat wave has been experienced by many stations since the start of July and prefectures like in Wakayama, Nara and Osaka had temperatures in the high 30s Monday afternoon. It is expected that warm weather will continue until next week in central and western Japan. The JMA warns people in 38 out of 47 prefectures, especially those in the Kansai, Chugoku and Shikoku areas plus major cities such as Nagoya and Osaka to regularly hydrate and stay indoors as much as possible to avoid heat stroke.
Another concern in this kind of weather is the rising energy cost to the country, now that only 2 out of 50 nuclear reactors are online, after the Fukushima meltdown in March 2011. To plug the gap of the loss of energy sources, the government and utilities have turned to the more expensive fossil-fuel alternatives. Renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power is still in its early stages in Japan and may not be enough to fulfill the country’s huge energy demands, especially in weather like this.
[ via Gulf News ]