OSAKA – September was one of the wettest and cloudiest months on record for large parts of the country, according to the Meteorological Agency, and local governments are warning that the lack of sunlight and damage from typhoons and heavy rains will likely affect agricultural output.
The agency said eastern and western Japan as well as Okinawa saw far fewer sunny days in September than normal. The number of hours of sunlight in western Japan and along the Japan Sea coast was only 64 percent of a normal September, the lowest figure since the agency began compiling comparable data in 1946.
During the month, weather fronts tended to stall over Honshu, bringing clouds and rain, as well as Typhoon Malakas, which struck in the middle of September and dumped more than 400 mm of rain on parts of Kyushu and Shikoku.
But in specific areas, the lack of sunlight was even more severe during parts of the month. In mid-September, heavy rains and cloud cover meant Nagano Prefecture received less than 40 percent of the normal amount of sunlight. The prefecture has already reported damage to lettuce and spinach crops, and some decline in the grape harvest due to the combination of heavy rains and less sunlight.
While the grape harvest is finishing, lettuce was scheduled to be picked at the end of this month, and spinach next month, but the prefecture warns the damage could be severe.
In Hokkaido, damage to the Tokachi agricultural region, famous for its corn, potatoes and soy beans, has already passed ¥57 billion due to three typhoons that hit the area in August.
In September, the area experienced just 75 percent of the sunlight it normally does, and the prefectural government has warned that the autumn harvest is likely to be affected, possibly causing shortages of some agricultural commodities.
Hyogo Prefecture’s harvest is also bracing for a decline due to last month’s bad weather. Kobe had only two sunny days during the first 10 days of the month. The amount of sunlight to reach the city during the last two-thirds of September was only 40 to 50 percent of normal, and crops like spinach that are grown within the city’s limits may be negatively affected.
Adding to the problem, average temperatures nationwide for September were generally between 1 and 2 degrees higher than normal. In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, the average temperature for September was 2.2 degrees above normal, while parts of northern Hokkaido saw average temperatures close to the norm.
The Meteorological Agency predicts average temperatures for the October-December period will be normal or slightly higher than normal in northern and eastern Japan, and about normal in western Japan and Okinawa.
Northern Japan is expected to get more rainfall than normal while the rest of the country will receive about the normal amount.
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