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Rare snowstorm hits Shikoku and Kyushu, southwestern Japan

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A rare snowstorm is affecting Shikoku and Kyushu, southwestern Japan today, January 11, 2018, causing traffic chaos throughout the region. Numerous traffic accidents were already reported and at least 9 people have been injured. Authorities are advising residents to be careful on icy roads and be alert for possible avalanches.

Heavy snowfall and icy road conditions such as today's are rarely seen in this region of Japan.

Transportation systems have been badly affected, NHK reports. In Ehime Prefecture, a train collided with a tree that toppled under the weight of accumulated snow. Series of road accidents in Tokushima Prefecture led to heavy congestion on a frozen national roadway where local authorities reported at least 9 traffic-related injuries.

Numerous vehicles were stranded and some flights canceled in the city of Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture.

January 11, 2018, Suomi NPP satellite image

Image credit: NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS. Acquired: January 11, 2018

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, snowstorms are expected to continue over the next 2 days, mainly along the Sea of Japan coast.

Residents are advised to be careful on icy roads and be alert for possible avalanches.

Heavy snowfall and powerful winds are also affecting Japan's northern regions, accustomed to this kind of weather, since January 9. 

Fukagawa city, for example, measured 47 cm (18.5 inches) of snow on January 9 and 10 and Horokanaicho 43 cm (16.9 inches).

Featured image: Heavy snow affecting southwestern Japan on January 11, 2018. Credit: NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS

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