Severe winter storm causes disruptions and loss of life in Japan

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Severe weather continues to impact Japan since Tuesday, January 24, 2023, bringing with it heavy sea-effect snow and temperatures not seen in a decade. The storm broke numerous wind, snow and temperature records across the country.

The cold weather started causing travel disruptions on January 24, with Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. canceling over 200 flights, impacting more than 8 000 people. Additionally, the Sanyo Shinkansen suspended service between Shin-Osaka and Okayama on Tuesday night due to a snow-related technical problem, and the Yamagata Shinkansen plans to suspend service between Fukushima and Shinjo on Wednesday.

In Kami Nagata, Maniwa City, a remarkable 41 cm (16.14 inches) of snowfall was observed during the six hours until 19:00 LT on January 24, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). In just six hours to 20:00 LT, 31 cm (12.2 inches) of snow was observed in Tsuyama and 28 cm (11 inches) in Imaoka, Mimasaka City.

As of January 26, at least five people have died – two in Niigata, two in Okayama and one in Oita Prefectures – due to severe weather-related accidents. More than 30 injured people were reported in Kyoto Prefecture, and up to 400 houses across Japan were affected by power outages.

On January 27, snow was falling mainly in areas along the Sea of Japan coast from northern to western Japan.

In the three hours to 16:00 LT on January 27, Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture had 8 cm (3.15 inches) of snow, while Tonami City in Toyama Prefecture and Niimi City in Okayama Prefecture had 7 cm (2.76 inches).

JMA has said that the winter pressure pattern is expected to strengthen again through Saturday, January 28, and warns that snow may also accumulate in the capital Tokyo if temperatures fall more than expected.

They are calling on people in wide areas of the country to be careful about possible disruptions to transportation, avalanches, gusts and power outages.

himawari-9 0510z january 27 2023 bg
Image credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 05:10 UTC on January 27, 2023


1 Brutal cold weather impacting Japan with remarkable sea-effect snow, extremely strong winds and temperatures seen once in 10 years expected – The Watchers – January 24, 2023

2 Heavy snow expected in Sea of Japan coast areas – NHK – January 27, 2023

Featured image credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 05:10 UTC on January 27, 2023

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