Extremely heavy snow claims 17 lives, leaves dozens injured in Japan
Extremely heavy sea effect snow affecting Japan since December 14, 2022, claimed the lives of at least 17 people and left at least 90 people injured, as of December 26.
Heavy sea-effect snow and the coldest air mass of the season started affecting Japan on December 14, forcing the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) to issue blizzard warnings for parts of the country. JMA warned people to be on alert for violent winds, high waves, and disruptions to public transportation and traffic caused by blizzards and snowdrifts.
Over the next 10 days, many parts of the country experienced record-breaking snowfall rates and ground accumulations:
Tadami Town in Fukushima Prefecture had a record 1.1 m (43.3 inches) of snow in 24 hours to Monday morning, December 19. The town’s snow accumulation reached nearly 1.6 m (63 inches) as of 17:00 LT.
In 24 hours to 05:00 LT on December 24, 97 cm (38.2 inches) of snow fell in the town of Oguni in Yamagata Prefecture and 81 cm (31.9 inches) in the village of Sekikawa in Niigata Prefecture — record-breaking figures for each area.1
As of 09:00 LT, the accumulated snow had reached 187 cm (73.6 inches) in the Yamagata Prefecture village of Ohkura, 169 cm (66.5 inches) in the Hokkaido Prefecture village of Otoineppu, and 140 cm (55.1 inches) in the city of Aomori.
Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on highways, delaying delivery services and causing 11 deaths by Saturday, December 24.2
More snowfall over the Christmas weekend brought the number of dead to 17 and injured to 93 by Monday morning, December 26, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Many of them had fallen while removing snow from the roofs or were buried underneath thick piles of snow sliding off rooftops.
As of December 26, many parts of northeastern Japan reported three times their average snowfall for the season.
This extreme snow event comes on the heels of Japan’s warmest autumn (September – November) since records began in 1898.
1 Heavy snow forecast across Japan as record figures seen in Yamagata, Niigata prefs. – The Mainichi – December 24, 2022
2 Heavy snow in Japan leaves at least 17 dead and dozens injured – AP – December 26, 2022
Featured image credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 03:10 UTC on December 25, 2022
If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.
Your support makes a difference
Dear valued reader,
We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.
The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.
If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.
Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.
Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Commenting rules and guidelines
We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:
We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.