Tornado hits Akita city, Japan


An apparent tornado swept the Akita city in northern Japan on October 31, 2016.

Several locals reported funnel-like winds which appeared as a tornado while other eyewitnesses describe a twister which appeared suddenly and out of nowhere near the city center. 

Video credit: 鈴木公浩

According to one woman, the tornado lifted a car to a height of power lines and threw it in the building. Media reported three cars suffered serious damage. Luckily, no injuries were reported.

The local weather observatory is currently trying to establish what happened. The Akita Prefecture was under a tornado warning at the time of the event.

On average, Japan experiences 20.5 tornadoes and 4.5 waterspouts each year, according to a study published in the Journal of Climate. Between 1961 and 1993, the country experienced 677 tornadoes and 148 waterspouts.

While tornadoes occur most frequently in September and least frequently in March, waterspouts occur most frequently in October.

  • Both tornadoes and waterspouts have high activities during daytime. The activity of tornadoes has two peaks between 10:00 and 11:00, and between 15:00 and 16:00 JST (Japan Standard Time).
  •  About two-fifths of the tornadoes occur on multiple-tornado days.
  • The average lifetimes of tornadoes and waterspouts are 12 and 14 min, respectively.
  • About 15% of tornadoes are anticyclonic.
  • More than 50% of tornadoes move toward the northeast quadrant.
  • The average damage path width and pathlength are 98 m and 3.2 km, respectively.
  • Fatality and injuries caused by tornadoes per year are 0.58 and 29.7, respectively.
  • Completely destroyed, severely damaged, and partly damaged residential houses per year are 17.0, 39.0, and 329, respectively.
  • About 46% of tornadoes are associated with extratropical cyclones (16% in a warm sector and 15% associated with cold fronts) and 20% associated with typhoons. 

Featured image credit: 鈴木公浩


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