Japan braces for heavy snow, warns of traffic disruption
Snow fell in parts of northern and western Japan facing the Sea of Japan as a cold air mass blew into the archipelago Tuesday, with flights canceled and the weather agency warning of heavy snow in other areas and traffic disruption due to frozen roads.
Wide areas of the country, including the Pacific side, could see heavy snowfall and strong winds from Tuesday evening to Wednesday, as low-pressure systems near Hokkaido and south of Japan will bring the coldest air of this winter, making atmospheric conditions extremely unstable, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
A man clears snow from a sidewalk in Aomori, northern Japan, on Jan. 24, 2023. (Kyodo)
As the strong winter patterns are expected to take hold through Thursday, some parts of the country could see their lowest temperatures in a decade, leading to a possibility of snowfall in Tokyo and Osaka, the agency said.
From the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido to the southwestern Kyushu region, cities are forecast to see subzero temperatures Wednesday morning, raising fears of frozen water pipes and icy road surfaces.
With temperatures expected to drop to minus 3 C in Tokyo and minus 2 C in Osaka, bursts of heavy snow are expected to fall until midday on Wednesday in parts of eastern and western Japan facing the Sea of Japan.
Snowfall was observed Tuesday evening in central Tokyo for the first time this season, while Fukuoka and Kagoshima also saw snowfall in the afternoon as temperatures dipped below zero.
People walk amid snow and heavy wind in the southwestern Japan city of Fukuoka on Jan. 24, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. canceled more than 200 flights on Tuesday, impacting more than 8,000 people, with some cancellations also slated for Wednesday.
In western Japan, the Sanyo Shinkansen suspended service between Shin-Osaka and Okayama on Tuesday night due to a snow-related technical problem.
People walk with umbrellas as it snows in Kyoto, western Japan, on Jan. 24, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
In the country’s northeast, the Yamagata Shinkansen plans to suspend service between Fukushima and Shinjo on Wednesday.
At JR Aomori Station in the northeastern prefecture of Aomori, a 43-year-old company employee on a business trip from neighboring Iwate said, “I will be careful of unexpected road closures and act quickly.”
Commuters walk in the snow near Aomori Station in northeastern Japan on Jan. 24, 2023, as the country braces for heavy snowfall amid a once-in-a-decade cold snap. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
In the 24 hours through 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Hokuriku region in central Japan could see up to 90 centimeters of snowfall, while there may be up to 80 cm of snow in the Tohoku region in the northeast.
Up to 70 cm of snow is expected in the Kanto-Koshin region of eastern and central Japan, and the Kinki and Chugoku regions in western Japan, the agency said.
Winds could reach up to 126 kilometers per hour in areas across the country, it said.
A streetcar runs in the snow in Toyama, central Japan, on Jan. 24, 2023, as Japan braces for heavy snowfall amid a once-in-a-decade cold snap. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Much of Japan to see heavy snow from Jan. 24 as winter storm arrives