Fierce snowstorm pounds Japan, disrupts public transport

Snow in Japan, photo by Japan Times.

A fierce snowstorm is pounding Japan after starting its wrath on the Sea of Japan coast one day ago, disrupting public transportation. The snowfall caused five trains on the Yamagata Shinkansen line to be suspended due to fallen trees and pantograph problems. The line runs between Tokyo and the northeast city of Shinjo.

Meanwhile, one train from Tokyo to Yamagata went about 160 metres past its stop last night, Japan News reported.

The snowfall last night in the village of Okura, Yamagata Prefecture, was 101 centimetres. The snowfall was 110 centimetres in Tadami, Fukushima Prefecture.

Four centimetres of snow also accumulated in Saga, and 1 centimetre in Nagasaki. This caused some expressways to temporarily close, according to Asia News Network.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has also cautioned people about strong winds, high waves, and avalanches. The agency warned that on top of disrupting public transportation, the weather could also cause blackouts.

The agency predicts that by tomorrow morning, the snowfall will reach 80 centimetres in the Hokuriku region, and 70 centimetres in the Tohoku region.

Earlier this year, Japan broke its snowfall record. In February, the snowfall was over 15 feet in some parts of the country, the heaviest snowfall in modern records. One snowfall was made even more fierce by a ‘bomb cyclone,’ a storm that drops at least 24 millibars in central pressure in 24 hours. The storm caused ferocious winds combined with snow, creating blizzard conditions.

In January 2021, at least 13 people died and 249 were injured in Japan’s heavy snowfall. Several people who were killed or injured had been removing snow from their roofs. Five people were hospitalised after becoming sick while trapped in their cars during heavy snow. About 1,000 vehicles were stranded in the Fukui Prefecture at one point during a snowstorm on January 10. Another 200 vehicles were stuck on another expressway in Toyama Prefecture. Up to 250 were trapped on National Route 8 in Niigata Prefecture.

In the latest snowstorm, Japan will hopefully stay as safe as it possibly can.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.