Northern Japan records lowest summer temperature in 128 years

Just days after Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido was sizzling with record heat, an unseasonably cold Thursday (Aug. 12) saw temperatures drop to one of the lowest records in a month.

At the same time, heavy rains pounded the island in southwestern Kyushu, with some areas receiving as much rain in a single day as would normally fall in an entire month of August.

Such extreme weather is raising concerns about the impact of climate change on Japan, where last week, 7,943 people were hospitalized in hospitals across the country because of the scorching heat.

Two weeks after Hokkaido’s Wakkanai recorded its highest-ever temperature of +32.7 degrees Celsius on July 29, temperatures dropped to +2.6 degrees Celsius at dawn Thursday, the lowest August reading for the city in 128 years.

In Sapporo, 300 kilometers to the south, it was a chilly +13.9 degrees Celsius Thursday morning, compared to the 26 degrees Celsius recorded at 7 a.m. Sunday when the Olympic men’s marathon competition began. The combination of heat and brutal humidity forced 30 of the 106 runners to walk off the course.

In Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island, warnings were issued Thursday to evacuate about 400,000 people because of the risk of flooding and landslides as a slow-moving rain front hit the region.

Evacuations were declared in six of Kyushu’s seven prefectures — Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita and Kagoshima.

Heavy rain led to the suspension of high-speed trains between Kumamoto and Kagoshima-Chuo stations on Thursday.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that a rain front would move across the country over the next week and urged extreme caution in many areas.

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