Bad Weather Hits Travel in Hokkaido

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Long lines form Thursday morning in front of Sapporo Station

A quick-forming, low-pressure weather system hit Hokkaido from Wednesday to Thursday, causing hundreds of trains and tens of flights to be canceled.

The Meteorological Agency has warned of the impact on traffic of heavy snowstorms and trees being blown over.

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, winds of up to 32.2 kph and 28.9 kph had been respectively recorded in the towns of Erimo and Rausu in Hokkaido, according to the agency. Kurihara in Miyagi Prefecture saw 40 centimeters of snow in the 24-hour period to 10 a.m. Thursday, followed by 38 centimeters in Sapporo and 32 centimeters in Hiroo, Hokkaido.

Due to the weather, Hokkaido Railway Co. canceled 426 train services from first departure Thursday, including the Rapid Airport service that connects Sapporo and New Chitose Airport. A total of 33 flights to and from Hokkaido airports — including those connecting Chitose and Haneda airports — were cancelled, according to the Hokkaido prefectural government.

Long lines formed in front of Sapporo Station as people waited for buses bound for New Chitose Airport and other destinations. “I was supposed to return home Wednesday night, but I stayed in Sapporo for an extra night,” said a Tokyo school employee who was visiting Sapporo on business. “I can finally go home.”

The low pressure is expected to move northeastward toward the Kuril Islands while further developing through Thursday night.