Snow isn't super rare in Tokyo, but it's really ramped up this year.
Lots of places in Japan see regular snowfall from fall until spring. But in Tokyo, it's rare to see more than a light dusting or two each winter.
Until 2016, that is.
This year, residents of Tokyo saw their first snowfall—called "hatsuyuki"—more than a month earlier than normal. It was the first time snow fell in November in 54 years. And even during the 1962 storm, there was no notable accumulation of snow on the ground. The unseasonable weather interrupted commuters, but it did make for some gorgeous photos. Here's NASA's explanation for the event:
The November dusting was caused by a cold air mass moving down from the Arctic, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Meteorologists connected the storm to the Arctic oscillation, a climate pattern that affects the northern hemisphere. Usually, high air pressure in the mid-latitudes prevents colder, low-pressure air seeping down from the Arctic. However, weaker pressure systems occasionally disrupt this barrier, and colder air can penetrate further south, as in this case.
(Photo credit KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)