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Tornadoes of Asia
The majority of tornadoes occurring in Asia have been reported in northeastern India, Bangladesh, Asiatic Russia, and Japan, though China and the Phillippines experience tornadoes of note as well. There are few tornado climatologies for Asiatic countries, so annual average numbers are likely low and based on reports of the stronger storms that strike more populated areas. There are also inconsistencies in the popular, local definitions for tornadoes. For example, in Bangladesh, a wind exceeding 100 mph is considered a tornado. It should also be noted that in many parts of the world, tornadoes and waterspouts are lumped together in the statistics in contrast with North American data.
Tornadoes in Japan
The best Asian tornado climatology (A Statistical Study of Tornadoes and Waterspouts in Japan from 1961 to 1993, 1997) I was able to find was for Japan by Niino, Fujitani, and Watanabe of the Meteorological Research Institute and the Japan Meteorological Agency. They studied a detailed tornado database from 1961 to 1993, which they believe to be most reliable. Six hundred and seventy-seven tornadoes and 148 waterspouts are catalogued in this database. (Tatsu maki is the general word in Japanese denoting tornado, waterspout, and funnel-aloft.)
They found an average of 20.5 tornadoes and 4.5 waterspouts occur annually in Japan The number ranged during the study period between 42 in 1976 and 10 in 1988.. About half of land tornadoes occurred between July and October, most frequently developing in September. Tornadic activity was greatest between 1000 and 1100, and between 1500 and 1600 JST (Japan Standard Time). About 46% of tornadoes were associated with extratropical cyclones and 20% associated with typhoons. Average fatalities and injuries caused by tornadoes per year were 0.58 and 29.7, respectively.
Most Japanese tornadoes are weak; a few are strong. Only one violent tornado F4 on the Fujita Scale has been documented prior to 2000.
Tornado fatalities in Japan are surprisingly small considering the high population density of that nation (in contrast to Bangladesh as we shall see). During the period between 1961 and 1993, the greatest number of fatalities caused by a single tornado was two. Two killer tornados have struck since 1993. The first hit on 18 September 2006 in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, killing three and injuring 100. The second, the deadliest tornado in recent Japanese history, struck on 7 November 2006 in Saroma, Hokkaido taking nine lives.
Prior to 1960, however, several tornadoes killed more than ten people in Japan. A tornado in Miyazaki city on 26 September 1881 demolished the Miyazaki Elementary School and killed 16. The second most deadly hit Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture on 28 November 1941, taking 12 lives and injuring 177. Another elementary school was hit on 23 September 1903, in Yodobashi Town, Toyotama County, Tokyo Prefecture. Ten persons died and 14 were injured in that event.
Tornadoes in Bangladesh and Northeastern India
The deadliest tornadoes to strike Asia have hit across a region that encompasses most of Bangladesh as well as the eastern Indian states of Assam, Tripura, West Bengal and Orissa. The data summaries here are taken from the work of Finch and Dewan (Tornados in Bangladesh and East India). They found 85 tornadoes during the period of 1838 to 2001, 24 which killed at least 100 people. However, the nature of the information makes it difficult to put a good figure on the average annual number of tornadoes in the region, but it likely is no more than a handful.
Most tornadoes occur here from early to mid-April and all but a few have formed between early March and late May. Most violent tornados occur in the afternoon and evening.
The earliest killer tornado on record in the region struck on 8 April 1838 in Calcutta, India and took 215 lives. Since then at least six tornadoes have taken more than 400 lives.
Tornadoes in China
Fourteen tornadoes have been listed by The Tornado Project during the 1991 to 2000 decade. Each of these did significant damage. Given the lack of information coming out of China over the past half century, it is not possible to given a good estimate of tornado occurrences in China, though it is likely that the number well exceeds those reported in that decade. A good number of the tornadoes are likely associated with typhoons. An example is the tornado spawned by Typhoon Ross that killed 13 people and injured about 100 in the city of Nanhai, Guangdong Province of southern China on 9 June 1944.
One of the more recent noteworthy tornadoes to strike China did so just before Christmas (December) in 2002. The whirlwind killed as many as 26 people and injured 100 in the southern province of Guangdong, according to state media and local officials. According to local reports, more than 50 boats sank, and 5,200 houses were destroyed. Nearly half a century earlier 19 April 1995, a killer tornado took around 37 lives in Guangzhou.
Other Asian Tornadoes
Reports of tornadoes have also come from several other Asian nations, including Pakistan, the remaining regions of India, the Phillippines, Vietnam and Myanmar (formerly Burma). Again, many tornadoes likely have gone unreported in the past and it is not possible to draw conclusions as to tornado frequencies for these countries.
Tornadoes occur but are uncommon in the remaining areas of India west of Bangladesh and in Pakistan. One killer storm struck the Indian capital of New Delhi, on 17 March 1978 taking 28 lives and injuring 700. A killer tornado that struck Bhalwal, Pakistan on 28 March 2001 took three lives.
The Phillippines seems the most vulnerable of these nations to tornadoes, most of which likely begin as waterspouts or are spawned by typhoons. At least five killer tornadoes have struck the islands over the past half century, and four of those came during the 1990s, likely due to a higher awareness for such storms. The deadliest 30 fatalities hit in the southern Philippines on 14 June 1990.
Viet Nam has reported two killer tornadoes. Like the Phillippines, tornadoes are likely due to waterspouts moving inland or tropical storms. The deadliest hit on 23 September 1997 in the coastal provinces of central Vietnam killing four fishermen. Myanmar's reported deadly tornado hit 15 May 1990 causing 1 fatality and 28 injuries when a tornado derailed eleven cars of a passenger train travelling between Kawlin and Mandalay.
Discussions of tornadoes for the five continents are given elsewhere on this site:
Tornadoes of Europe
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