Heavy Snow Disrupts Traffic in Japan, Severe cold to Return Friday Night

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Snow is piled high on the roof of a garage in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, on Thursday.

Vehicles were stranded on expressways in Niigata and Gunma prefectures as snow continued to fall from northern Japan to mainly the Sea of Japan side of western Japan on Thursday morning.

While the low temperatures are expected to ease slightly, the Japan Meteorological Agency warns that it will be severely cold again from Friday night.

According to the agency, the 48-hour snowfall totals in the Fujiwara area of the town of Minakami, Gunma Prefecture, reached 1.99 meters by 2 a.m. Thursday, and 1.35 meters in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, by 1 a.m. Both were record highs.

The 24-hour snowfall totals by 6 a.m. Friday are estimated to be 70 centimeters in areas of the Hokuriku region and 50 centimeters in parts of the Kanto, Koshin and Kinki regions.

The lows Thursday were minus 5.8 C in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, minus 3.6 C in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, and minus 0.1 C in central Tokyo, all the lowest temperatures recorded so far this season.

In Niigata and Gunma prefectures, parts of the Joshin-Etsu and Kan-Etsu expressways were closed to traffic. According to the East Nippon Expressway Co., about 150 vehicles became stranded on the Joshin-Etsu Expressway and traffic was at a standstill on the Kan-Etsu Expressway as well,

According to the East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), services on the Yamagata Shinkansen line between Yamagata and Shinjo stations in Yamagata Prefecture have been suspended, while train services have been delayed or suspended due to snow in other areas.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
National Highway Route 17 is congested by heavy snow in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, on Thursday.