Tag: ‘Meteorology’

Video: Moon shadow races across Earth

22 Jul 2009


+ Video

Japan's Himawari-7 (a.k.a. MTSAT-2) weather satellite has beamed back a series of images of Earth captured during the solar eclipse earlier today. Taken at 15-minute intervals from an altitude of 36,000 kilometers (22,400 miles), the satellite images show the dark shadow of the Moon racing east across Asia and into the Pacific.

[Images via Japan Meteorological Agency]

UPDATE: Tadpole rain in Japan

19 Jun 2009

Tadpole rain in Japan --
Tadpole rain, Hiroshima prefecture, June 15

Over the past few weeks, people in Japan have been witnessing tadpoles, fish and frogs fall from the sky. Ever since the strange phenomenon was first observed in Ishikawa prefecture on June 4, reports of animal rain have been pouring in from prefectures across the country.

So far, nobody has come up with a plausible explanation for the animal rain. Although some people believe the tadpole showers may be the result of weather disturbances such as waterspouts, no meteorological agencies have observed strong wind or unstable weather conditions in any of the areas where the rain has occurred. Others believe birds may be spitting up large quantities of tadpoles, although many ornithologists dispute this claim. Still others have suggested it may be the work of human pranksters, or even extraterrestrials.

Here is a brief timeline of the occurrences reported so far. This page will be updated as new reports emerge.

* * * * *

June 4, Ishikawa prefecture -- At 4:30 PM in the town of Nanao, witnesses discovered approximately 100 dead tadpoles in a 300 square meter area in and around the parking lot outside the Nakajima Civic Center. Witnesses described hearing a strange sound outside before finding the tadpoles.

Raining tadpoles --
Tadpoles on car windshield, Ishikawa prefecture, June 4

June 6, Ishikawa prefecture -- At 7:00 AM in the town of Hakusan, a 75-year-old resident found a handful of tadpole carcasses on the hood of her car. More were found scattered in nearby yards and parking lots.

June 9, Ishikawa prefecture -- In the town of Nakanoto, a number of small fish were found scattered over a residential area. About 10 fish recovered from roadsides and the tops of cars appeared to be Crucian carp measuring 3 to 5 centimeters long.

Raining fish in Japan -- Raining fish in Japan --
Crucian carp, Ishikawa prefecture, June 9

June 13, Iwate prefecture -- At about 6:00 PM in the town of Shiwa, a 67-year-old farmer was tending her field when she heard what sounded like hailstones hitting the ground around her. She found 15 tadpole carcasses. The local meteorological agency reported the weather was calm at the time, and a local ornithologist said he found it improbable that birds dropped them.

June 15, Nagano prefecture -- In the morning, about 40 tadpole carcasses were found on the premises of an elementary school in the town of Suzaka.

June 15, Hiroshima prefecture -- At 8:30 AM in the town of Miyoshi, a 60-year-old resident found the carcasses of 13 tadpoles and one frog scattered in the yard and on the roof of her home. (See photo above.)

June 15, Miyagi prefecture -- At about 5:00 PM in the town of Taiwa, a 74-year-old resident heard what sounded like rain outside her home. She stepped outside to find about 50 tadpoles scattered in the yard and on the roof. The tadpoles were wet, but none of them were alive. According to the woman, the sky was clear and there was no wind. She saw no birds in the sky.

Tadpole rain in Japan -- Tadpole rain in Japan --
Left: Miyagi prefecture, June 15 // Right: Iwate prefecture, June 17

June 16, Aichi prefecture -- At around 8:00 AM, a 45-year-old company employee was driving through the town of Chiryu on his way to work, when he heard the sound of something pelting the roof of his car. When he arrived at work, he found 25 tadpole carcasses, each about 5 centimeters long, splattered on the top and sides of his vehicle.

Tadpole rain in Japan --
Aichi prefecture, June 16

Some of the tadpoles were bloody and looked as if they had fallen from a great height. According to the man, there were no tall buildings nearby and the sky was clear. "At first I though birds had crapped on my car," he said. "I was surprised to find tadpoles."

June 16, Saitama prefecture -- At 1:00 PM in the town of Kuki, a 77-year-old man reportedly found over 20 carcasses of tadpoles and small fish in his yard. The man lives about 1 kilometer away from a patch of woods where crows roost. He believes the birds dropped the tadpoles and fish in his yard.

Tadpole rain in Japan --
Saitama prefecture, June 16

June 16, Miyagi prefecture -- At around 4:00 PM in the town of Osaki, a 54-year-old resident reportedly found about 20 carcasses of tadpoles and small fish in her yard.

June 17, Iwate prefecture -- At 5:00 AM, while walking to his rice field, a 66-year-old farmer in the town of Yahaba heard what sounded like large raindrops hitting the ground around him. He found about 30 tadpole carcasses, each about 3 to 4 centimeters long, on the road. Most of them appeared crushed, as if they had fallen a great distance. He spotted a crow flying in the sky above, but he doubts the bird dropped the tadpoles. He said there was no wind at the time. (See photo above.)

June 17, Fukui prefecture -- A 67-year-old resident of the town of Sabae found about 40 tadpole carcasses outside her home in the morning. The tadpoles, which measured about 3 to 4 centimeters long, were moist. Some of them were crushed and bleeding. The weather had been fine, and the woman reportedly heard nothing strange the night before.

Tadpole rain in Japan --
Fukui prefecture, June 17

June 17, Toyama prefecture -- At 8:40 AM in the town of Asahi, a 59-year-old company worker found about 30 tadpoles scattered on the road in front of his home. The tadpoles measured about 3 centimeters long and had begun to develop legs. The weather was calm and partly cloudy, making it unlikely they were swept up in a gust of wind. A local biologist says that the tadpoles may have died from dehydration after venturing out from a nearby rice field. The man believes they may have been dropped by crows.

Tadpole rain in Japan --
Toyama prefecture, June 17

June 17, Akita prefecture -- At 10:30 AM in the town of Ugo, a 37-year-old candy shop manager found about 70 tadpole carcasses in yards and on the streets near her store. Most of the tadpoles, which measured about 2 to 3 centimeters long, appeared crushed. The shop is located in a residential area near rice fields and a river. She blames birds.

Tadpole rain in Japan --
Akita prefecture, June 17

June 17, Kagoshima prefecture -- While taking an evening walk, a 58-year-old company employee in the town of Isa came across about 20 tadpole carcasses in the street. According to the man, there were rice paddies nearby, but the road was dry.

* * * * *

Saitama prefecture, late May -- In a loosely related story, an employee at a nursing home in the town of Sakado found a mummified snake on a wooden deck outside the facility one morning. The mummy, which measures about 30 centimeters long and appears to be the dried remains of a baby Japanese striped snake or Japanese rat snake, is coiled up in a strike pose.

Mysterious snake mummy --
Mysterious mummified snake, Saitama prefecture

It is unclear where the snake came from and how it made its way to the nursing home, although it appears to have fallen from the sky (perhaps it was dropped by a bird). The employee, who believes the unusual find is a sign of good luck, put the snake mummy on display in a glass case in the lobby. However, he was forced to remove it after some residents complained.

* * * * *

June 17, Niigata prefecture -- In the city of Niigata, a 14-year-old student returning home from school in the evening found 25 dead tadpoles on a residential street, not far from an irrigation channel and rice fields. The carcasses, which were dry and flat, measured 2 to 5 centimeters long.

Japan rains tadpoles -- Japan rains tadpoles --
Left: Tadpole rain in Niigata (June 17) // Right: Tottori (June 18)

June 18, Tottori prefecture -- Early in the morning in the town of Yonago, a 48-year-old resident found 30 tadpole carcasses scattered atop a section of a 5-meter-wide seaside retaining wall. The tadpoles, some of which had begun to develop legs, measured 2 to 4 centimeters long. According to the local weather agency, the maximum wind speed at the time was 3 meters/sec (6.7 mph) and conditions were not favorable for the development of waterspouts. A local biologist claimed it was unlikely that a bird scattered that many tadpoles along the wall.

June 18, Niigata prefecture -- At around 2:00 PM, a 63-year-old resident of the town of Nagaoka found about 50 carcasses of tadpoles, frogs, dragonfly nymphs and small fish in the street in front of his apartment building. The tadpoles were described as being in a half-dried state. One tadpole was also found on the roof of the apartment building, which is located in the center of town.

* * * * *

June 23, Fukushima prefecture -- At 10:30 AM on a clear, windless morning in the town of Aizu-Wakamatsu, two bicycle shop employees heard a loud thud outside their store. When they stepped out to investigate, they found a 35-centimeter-long catfish on the ground next to a parked minivan. The catfish appeared to have struck the vehicle, leaving a smear of mucus and mud on its left-hand side. The witnesses, whose shop is located nowhere near a catfish-populated river, do not believe it is the work of a human prankster. They suspect a bird may have dropped the catfish.

* * * * *

June 24, Yamaguchi prefecture -- At 6:00 AM, a 68-year-old resident of the town of Shunan heard the sound of something striking the roof of her home. When she stepped outside to investigate, she found about 20 wet tadpole carcasses on the ground and on the roof. The tadpoles each measured 3 to 4 centimeters long and were beginning to develop legs.

June 24, Yamagata prefecture -- At 4:30 PM, a 34-year-old piano instructor in the town of Shinjo discovered about 40 wet tadpole carcasses in her yard, just as she was leaving to walk her dog. The woman noticed the tadpoles after the dog started sniffing excitedly at the ground outside. She found a wet tadpole stuck to the dog's nose. The tadpoles, many of which appeared crushed, had not been in her yard two hours earlier.

Tadpole rain in Japan -- Tadpole rain in Japan --
Left: Yamaguchi prefecture, June 24 // Right: Aomori prefecture, July 1

July 1, Aomori prefecture -- A 29-year-old resident of the town of Rokunohe found about 40 tadpole carcasses scattered in the parking lot next to her apartment building. The tadpoles measured 2 to 5 centimeters long, and many of them appeared squashed. Several more were later found on the roof of the building.

* * * * *

Tadpole rain in Japan --
Froglets scattered on rural road, Oita prefecture, July 7

July 7, Oita prefecture -- The bodies of more than 600 tadpoles and froglets were found scattered along a 100-meter stretch of rural road near the town of Kusu. A 69-year-old farmer discovered the carcasses while on the way to check his rice fields in the morning. According to the farmer, who noticed nothing unusual on the road the night before, the irrigation channels and rice paddies near the road contain no water, implying that the froglets may have come from elsewhere.

[Compiled from multiple sources via Google News]

* Last update: July 9, 2009. More updates to follow.

Mysterious tadpole rain in Japan (pics)

10 Jun 2009

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* Read -- UPDATE: Tadpole rain in Japan
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As rainy season approaches, Japan's Ishikawa prefecture has been receiving some unusual precipitation -- it's been raining tadpoles.

Raining tadpoles --

According to prefecture officials, tadpoles have reportedly fallen from the sky in two separate towns this month. Although it is not unheard of for waterspouts and strong wind to to pull small fish and animals from water and drop them on land, no foul weather has been observed in the area, leaving residents baffled.

The first reported case of anomalous tadpole rain occurred at about 4:30 PM on June 4 in the town of Nanao. After hearing a strange sound outside the Nakajima Civic Center, witnesses discovered approximately 100 dead tadpoles in a 300 square meter area in and around the parking lot. The tadpoles measured 2 to 3 centimeters long.

Raining tadpoles --
Tadpoles on car windshield outside Nakajima Civic Center

Dozens more tadpoles reportedly fell on the nearby town of Hakusan in the early morning hours of June 6, according to local officials. One 75-year-old resident described finding a handful of tadpoles on the hood of her car at around 7:00 AM. Others were found scattered in nearby yards and parking lots. A strange sound was reportedly heard in the middle of the night, even though no wind or rain was observed.

According to Kanazawa Meteorological Observatory officials, the two towns -- which are dotted with rice fields -- experienced stable weather during the period in question and the conditions were not favorable for the development of waterspouts.

"I've never seen anything like this before," said one meteorologist. "We have no idea what caused it."

[Source: Sankei]

UPDATE: Asahi is reporting that more freak animal rain may have fallen in Ishikawa prefecture, only this time it is fish.

Raining fish in Japan -- Raining fish in Japan --
Crucian carp believed to have fallen from the sky in Ishikawa prefecture

On the evening of June 9 in the town of Nakanoto located about 15 kilometers from Nanao (where it rained tadpoles on June 4), a number of small fish were found scattered over a residential area. About 10 fish recovered from roadsides and the tops of cars appear to be Crucian carp measuring 3 to 5 centimeters long.

Video: Cloud streets

27 Feb 2008

Cloud streets --

This video -- a follow-up to a previous post about strange cloud formations seen over the Sea of Okhotsk last summer -- provides a rare close-up bird's-eye view of cloud streets, which are created when convection currents cut low-lying cumulus into long, clean strips. According to the video narration, these clouds floated just over the sea surface, stood 300 meters tall and stretched for over 100 kilometers.

Pollen Robots

29 Jan 2008

Pollen Robots --

As hay fever season approaches, Tokyo-based weather forecasting company Weathernews, Inc. is deploying a 200-strong army of beady-eyed, ball-shaped robots nationwide to monitor the pollen situation.

The so-called "Pollen Robots," which weigh 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) and measure 30 centimeters (1 ft) across, consist of a monitoring unit housed in a spherical styrofoam shell. A pair of eyes glow 5 different colors -- white, blue, green, red and purple -- to indicate the level of Japanese cedar and cypress pollen in the air.

Two hundred hay fever sufferers around the country have volunteered to hang the Pollen Robots outside their homes, where they will monitor the air and send minute-by-minute reports over the Internet to Weathernews headquarters in Tokyo. The data will be used to update the company's online pollen map.

Weathernews is forecasting higher-than-normal pollen counts this spring.

[Source: Asahi]

Photo: Strange clouds over Sea of Okhotsk

20 Jun 2007

Strange clouds over Hokkaido --

This photograph, taken June 18 from a Japan Coast Guard aircraft off the northeastern coast of Hokkaido, shows a bird's-eye view of cloud streets over the Sea of Okhotsk. According to the Sapporo Meteorological Observatory, these low-altitude stratocumulus clouds were rolled into long, distinctive ribbons after becoming trapped in air currents. While it is not uncommon for wind to form such patterns in stratocumulus clouds, photos that clearly show the clouds rolled into strips are rare, says the observatory.

UPDATE: Watch the video.

[Source: Mainichi]

Aurora on demand

11 Jul 2006

Aurora generatorResearchers have developed the next best thing for would-be aurora gazers unable to make the trip to a near-polar location -- an aurora generator. The device was developed by Professor Shigeyuki Minami from the Graduate School of Engineering at Osaka City University, who worked with real estate developer Iida Sangyo Co., Ltd.

Beginning August 1, Iida Sangyo plans to fire up the device as the main attraction at its Enoshima Island Spa ("Enospa"), affording visitors the extra luxury of gazing at the aurora while lounging poolside on the second floor.

The aurora is generated within the belly of the machine, where a near-vacuum state is maintained. Electrons collide with oxygen and nitrogen to create colorful light in the same way that naturally occurring auroral light is generated in the earth’s upper atmosphere. One side of the device is made of transparent acrylic resin, allowing viewers to admire the beauty of the artificial aurora contained within. The aurora generator measures 2.2 (H) x 2.8 (W) x 1.4 (D) meters (7 x 9 x 5 feet), though the company claims to have engineered prototypes as large as 3 x 3 meters.

Aurora simulators in the past have relied on techniques such as laser beams that create aurora-like effects, while devices that have relied on electrical discharge in a vacuum have been very small. In addition to being larger and more "real" than previous devices, Iida Sangyo's device does not simply light up -- it emits a shimmering curtain of dynamic multi-hued light consisting of as many as 11 colors.

The company has not revealed exactly what technology is at work in the device.

[Source: Tech-On! via /. Japan]

Yellow dust clouds zapped with green lasers

18 Apr 2006

LIDARIn an annual rite of spring, scientists in Japan carefully monitor the atmosphere for yellow dust. Also known as Asian dust, yellow sand or yellow wind, yellow dust is a phenomenon in which strong seasonal winds kick up giant clouds of fine Gobi desert sand. The dust clouds travel eastward, affecting air quality in China, Korea and Japan, and occasionally the continental US.

Japan's Meteorological Research Institute uses a remote sensing technique known as aerosol LIDAR (light detection and ranging) to monitor the status of the atmosphere and measure phenomena such as yellow dust. When weather conditions permit, a green laser beam is shot into the night sky from a small prefab structure belonging to the institute. The laser light is partly backscattered as it strikes particles floating as high as 40 km (25 miles) in the atmosphere, and the strength and timing of the reflected signals allows observers on the ground to analyze the particle content of the air.

On the night of April 17, the Omaezaki weather station in Shizuoka prefecture confirmed the presence of yellow dust in the atmosphere.

[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun]

Frozen waterfall indicates bumper rice crop to come

13 Feb 2006

Frozen Taroshi Falls In a tradition that stretches back 700 years, local farmers in Hanamaki, Iwate prefecture measure the circumference of the frozen waterfall at Taroshi Falls to predict the yield of the year's rice crop.

According to the conservation group that has kept track of the measurements since 1975, the largest measurement on record is 8 meters, taken in 1978. Warm winters in recent years have caused the ice to break apart, sometimes making it impossible to get an accurate measurement. This year, however, the frozen waterfall measures in at a respectable 5.5 meters, surpassing the 4-meter mark that indicates a plentiful harvest.

Hiroshi Itagaki, 74, head of the conservation group, says, "With all the depressing news about this year's heavy snow, I hope this can serve as a message of hope for the country." The conservation group's mantra is a haiku which translates: "So magnficent -- this icicle before us -- bulging with promise."

[Source: Asahi Shimbun]