A severe snowstorm started affecting northern Japan on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, causing flooding and transport disruptions. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned it could become the most powerful blizzard in years and cause whiteout conditions through Wednesday, February 17.
A rapidly developed low pressure system is advancing westward over the Sea of Okhotsk, bringing extremely strong winds and causing storm surge that already flooded many homes in western parts of Hokkaido.
Image credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA, TW. Acquired 05:40 UTC on February 16, 2021
Image credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA, TW. Acquired 12:30 UTC on February 16, 2021
Wind gusts of up to 162 km/h (101 mph) were recorded at Cape Erimo, Hokkaido, 135 km/h (84 mph) in Sakata city, Yamagata Prefecture, and 111 km/h (69 mph) in Akita City, Tohoku.
The blizzard triggered the closure of nearly 600 schools, the cancelation of about 70 flights, and the disruption of more than 200 train services, according to the Kyodo News.
The JMA warned of "the most powerful blizzard in years," and advised people to refrain from going outside as the storm may produce whiteout conditions through Wednesday.
Heavy snow, high waves, and strong winds may also cause further disruptions in the northeast and areas along the coast of the Sea of Japan.
Up to 60 cm (24 inches) of snow is forecast in the Hokuriku region and the northeast, while up to 50 cm (20 inches) is expected across Hokkaido in 24 hours to Wednesday morning.
Featured image credit: Hokkaido News UHB/YouTube (stillshot)