Powerful snowstorm causes major traffic disruptions in Japan

Powerful snowstorm causes major traffic disruptions in Japan

A powerful low pressure field brought heavy snowfall across parts of Japan on January 17 and 18, 2016. Extreme weather conditions caused widespread traffic chaos, and at least 250 people reported injuries while 10 000 were advised to evacuate Nemuro region on January 19 due to a threat of a strong storm surge.

Abundant snowfall blanketed eastern and northeastern Japan yesterday, causing major traffic disruption across the affected areas, especially in central Tokyo where 6 cm (2.4 inches) of snow was reported.

Low pressure field over Japan, January 18, 2016, 00:00 UTC. Image credit: Korea Meteorological Administration via WestPacWx

The synoptic situation over Japan, January 19, 2016. Image credit: NASA Terra/MODIS

At least 40 people were injured in weather-related incidents in Tokyo while 30 reported injuries in Saitama Prefecture, local media reported. A few traffic-related incidents have been reported as well.

Video credit: WestPacWX

About 30 000 passengers have been affected by the snow conditions, as the Joetsu and Hokuriku shinkansen lines were disrupted. 197 domestic flights have been cancelled, and rail traffic across the country experienced major delays and cancellations.

Storm surge, Mutsu-Ogawara Port. Image credit: WestPacWx

The intense weather system is currently dominating over Japan, with pressure estimated to be as low as 993 hPa, according to Robert Speta, NHK and WestPacWx meteorologist. The low has produced a storm surge in Hokkaido and Aomori prefecture. Waves of 9 m (29.5 feet) were reported in Aomori, Hachinohe on January 19.

Snow blankets Japan, January 17, 2016. Image credit: WestPacWx

Traffic disruption in Japan causes major delays. Image credit: WestPacWx

Additional 100 cm (39.4 inches) of snow has been forecast by the Meteorological Agency for January 19 in regions of Hokkaido and Hokuriku, 70 cm (27.6 inches) in Tohoku and Tokai, 50 cm (19.7 inches) in Chugoku while 40 cm (15.7 inches) in Kanto and Koshin.

Image credit: NHK World via WestPacWx

The storm system is expected to bring more snowfall over the next couple of days. More than 200 cm (78.7 inches) of snow is expected in parts of Hokkaido and Hokoriku by the end of the week, according to Robert Speta. Residents have been advised to prepare for severe weather conditions and remain indoors whenever possible. The use of snow tires and chains for road vehicles has been strongly encouraged.

Featured image: Heavy snowfall blankets Japan, January 17, 2016. Image credit: WestPacWx


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