Heavy snow expected again throughout much of Japan over Christmas weekend

The Yomiuri Shimbun
JR Shinetsu Line tracks are seen buried under snow on Wednesday in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture.

Heavy snow is expected throughout much of the country from Thursday through Monday.

In Niigata Prefecture, the snow had left hundreds of cars stranded on national highways from Monday through Wednesday morning. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry and the Japan Meteorological Agency made emergency announcements to urge people to be careful.

According to the meteorological agency, the cold air will slowly move to Japan, causing snowfall to be prolonged. Heavy snow is expected in Hokkaido and the Chugoku region on Thursday. It will then move to other areas, mainly along the coast of the Sea of Japan, peaking on Friday and Saturday. Snow is also forecast in areas along the Pacific coast.

In the Hokuriku region, up to 90 centimeters of snowfall is expected in the 24 hours through 6 p.m. on Friday, while up to 70 centimeters is forecast in the Chugoku region during the same period.

The transport ministry asked the public to “refrain from unnecessarily going out in the event of heavy snowfall” and to use snow tires or attach chains to their tires, during an emergency announcement on Wednesday.

The cars being stranded in Niigata Prefecture is thought to be the result of more people using national highways due to the closure of expressways. The ministry is considering implementing preventive road closures, not only on expressways but also on national highways. The ministry plans to post the information on its website and on its social media about three hours in advance in the event of a closure.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An employee at a clinic writes prescriptions by hand during a power outage on Wednesday in Sado, Niigata Prefecture.