Heaviest blizzard in decades hits Honshu

In Other News - February 10th, 2014
tokyo-blizzard

A rare blizzard hit Japan over the weekend dumping nearly 50 centimeters of snow in some areas, the worst the country has seen in almost a half a century.

The low-pressure front swept northward through the main Honshu island, burying Matsumoto in Nagano prefecture underneath 49 centimeters of (19.2 inches) of snow, the heaviest snowfall in decades.

As much as 27 centimeters (10.6 inches) of snow was seen in central Tokyo by late Saturday and 35 centimeters (13.8 inches) of snow fell over the northeastern city of Sendai.

The snowstorm paralyzed most of the country, making for hazardous driving conditions and disrupted rail lines in Tokyo. Flights were delayed at Narita airport in Chiba prefecture, forcing about 8,200 passengers to shelter overnight in the lobbies until Sunday morning. Services were also cancelled on the Tohoku Shinkansen and Haneda airport.

Tokyo Electric Power Co said that power was still cut off for 60,800 households in Tokyo, Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures on Sunday morning.

Local media said at least 11 people were killed in snow-related accidents, mostly car crashes after vehicles skidded on icy roads. One person was also in critical condition and more than 1,200 were reportedly injured—many had slipped on the ground or fallen while shoveling the snow off their roofs during the one-day snowstorm.

Still, many Tokyoites went out to enjoy the rare view of the metropolitan covered in white as the snowfall waned.

The blizzard also interfered with the Tokyo gubernatorial race. Reports say the weather discouraged many from going out and voter turnout was 20.52 percent as of noon Sunday.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: HAMACHI!/Flickr