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Tokyo records lowest temperature in 48 years, prompting rare warning from weather agency

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    Visitors at Onouchi Ravine in Ogano, Saitama Prefecture, look at the frozen landscape from a bridge that straddles the gorge. The massive columns were artifi cially made by spraying water over the trees and letting it freeze naturally. The water was drawn from the upper reaches of mountain rivers. Organizers said the scenery is more impressive than in past years, thanks to the recent cold spell.

Tokyo >> As cold air blanketed wide areas of the nation in late January, the mercury in central Tokyo fell to 24 degrees Jan. 25, the capital’s lowest figure in 48 years.

The bitter cold — coming just days after the city’s heaviest snowfall in four years — prompted the Meteorological Agency to issue a low temperature advisory for the 23 wards for the first time in over three decades. Shigeki Kawaguchi, an official of the agency’s weather consultation center, said a similar warning was last issued in late January 1985.

An advisory of this kind is issued when water inside pipes might freeze or pipes might rupture — or when crops might be damaged — according to the agency.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s waterworks bureau also posted a notice on its website, urging the public to take precautionary measures to protect pipes located outdoors or those that are exposed to the air.

The bureau said water pipes can be protected by wrapping them with insulation materials to prevent water in outdoor pipes from freezing, pipes from breaking and the supply being cut off.

Following a rush of hundreds of calls, the bureau issued an online notice saying blankets, cloth or Styrofoam can be used if insulation material is not available. It also cautioned against letting the material get wet, and said vinyl tape could be used to ward off moisture.

Becuause of increased use of heaters, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. warned that the electricity demand was “severe” with usage reaching 96 percent of 50.5 million kilowatts.

Temperatures were expected to go as low as 5 degrees today in central Tokyo, with a high temperature of 33 degrees, the Meteorological Agency said. Weekend temperatures will stay low, between 15 and 41 degrees.

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