Severest Cold Spell So Far This Season Forecast to Hit Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Pedestrians walk through the snow in Otaru, Hokkaido, on Saturday.

This season’s severest cold spell so far is forecast to envelop the Japanese archipelago from Tuesday through Thursday, likely causing heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures across a wide swath of the nation.

For central Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, the Japan Meteorological Agency is warning of snow accumulation and traffic disruptions as the low temperatures are expected to be below zero over several days.

Hokkaido was among the areas of Japan that on Saturday experienced snowstorms due to a strengthening winter pressure pattern, the JMA said.

There will be a slight break in the cold weather, but from Tuesday intense cold air ranging from minus 12 C to minus 21 C, or lower sitting 1,500 meters above Japan will cause low temperatures.

The Japan Sea polar airmass convergence zone, known as JPCZ, may develop to bring bands of snow clouds that can cause heavy snowfall in a short period of time on the Japan Sea coast.

In addition to concerns about water pipes freezing and icy roads, experts also urged people to be careful of thermal shock due to sudden temperature changes going indoors and outdoors.

The Tokyo metropolitan government’s Waterworks Bureau has tweeted to remind residents to be careful of water pipes freezing, suggesting measures such as insulating pipes to protect them from the cold air.

Some expressway companies said that some road sections might be closed, especially along the Japan Sea, through Thursday.

“I advise people to adapt to the temperature by putting on warmer wear, not only when going outdoors, but also when moving from the living room to the colder hallway or bathroom so as to prevent thermal shock,” said Nobue Kunizaki, head of the Risk & Crisis Management Education Institute Co. in Tokyo.