Birth of a Japanese tornado?

Storm wide

“Tornado” in Japanese is 竜巻 tatsumaki, written with a pair of characters that can be read to mean “spinning dragon.”

The other day, I may have photographed a dragon’s egg.

At 1:14 on Monday, September 3, I stepped out the front door of my apartment in Kawaguchi, a northern suburb of Tokyo, and saw an unusual cloud formation on the eastern horizon.

My friend Bill Hark is a veteran storm chaser in the United States. (You can visit his website here and see a short documentary in which he appears here.) This looked like the sort of cloud that might interest him. So, I took two quick photos to send him and then went about my day, running several errands in an area to the west of where I live.

Storm close

Late that evening, I learned that a tornado had hit the town of Koshigaya about 45 minutes after I took the photos. Here’s one view of what the tornado looked like:

You can see more dramatic footage here and some of the damage it did here. You can read about it here. More than 60 people were injured, but fortunately no one was killed.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until a day later that it occurred to me that since Koshigaya is northeast of Kawaguchi, the cloud formation I had photographed might be related to the tornado. It was just south of Koshigaya when I took the pictures, but the storm’s path moved to the northeast.

When I consulted Bill by e-mail, he said, “The formation is a towering cumulus that appears to be on its way to becoming a storm. I don’t know if it became ‘the storm,’ but I think there is a strong possibility.”

He also suggested that I send the photos to the Japan Meteorological Agency. I have done so. Whether the photos show “the storm” or not, I hope their researchers find them to be of some use.

One Response to “Birth of a Japanese tornado?”

  1. tokyohamster Says:

    Wow that’s really amazing. I’m used to tornados back home, but I was surprised to find that there’s tornados here too. I haven’t seen a cloud formation like that. I just remember the eerie silence before a tornado approaches!

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