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Hot days, cold nights mark unusual weather pattern

Date Posted: 2003-01-24

For the past couple of weeks Okinawa has experienced rather unusual weather pattern when daytime temperatures rise to almost summerlike heights to 22 degrees centigrade only to plummet as low as 12.4 degrees in the night. The daytime temperature is 2.8 degrees above average January while the nights are 1.8 degrees below normal.

The reason according to Okinawa Meteorological Observatory is the extraordinary high-pressure front that is almost stationary over Okinawa. That helps to warm up the air on days. The warm air then radiates off at night cooling the island.

The difference in day and night temperature is thus nearly 10 degrees and prefecture health officials worry that the large difference may make residents more susceptible to flu and other ailments.

Warm days have prompted many taxis to turn on their air conditioners. “We have used air conditioners all days and that has tourists wondering. Many of them say that they feel like they are in a foreign country, not in Japan,” a taxi driver waiting for customers at Naha Airport said. “In the evenings we then had to turn the heating on,” he continued.

Dr. Tamiko Fukuyama of Okinawa General Health Bureau says that big shifts in temperature affect human autonomous nerve system. “The autonomous nerve system goes off balance and that weakens body’s resistance against bacteria and viruses. That’s why it’s easy to catch gold or influenza,” Fukuyama said. In order to protect against flu and other seasonal diseases she advises people to pay attention to personal hygiene even more than normal. “Washing hands and mouth helps prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. If possible, people should avoid public places and stay at home. Eating, sleeping and keeping warm are also important,” she stated.

Considering reports from local schools, flu season is well on its way in Okinawa as tens of students have reported being sick and are staying home.

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