Snow piling up at an unprecedented pace, Japan

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Heavy sea effect snow continues affecting Japan, producing record-breaking snow amounts over parts of the country.

Heavy sea-effect snow and the coldest air mass of the season started affecting Japan last week, forcing authorities to issue blizzard warnings for many parts of the country.1

Sukayu in Aomori Prefecture, known as the snowiest place in Japan, accumulated 145 cm (57 inches) of snow on the ground by December 15 — representing 132% of normal.

On the same day, Shumarinai recorded 127 cm (50 inches) of snow on the ground — 117% of normal, and Hijiori 97 cm (38.2 inches) — 146% of normal.

In 48 hours to December 17, Hijiori registered 134 cm (52.7 inches), surpassing the previous December record of 107 cm (42.1 inches).

During the same period, Obanazawa recorded 104 cm (40.9 inches) — also setting a new December record, while Shinjo recorded 89 cm (35 inches), making it an all-time record and 390% of normal.

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Image credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

Heavy snow continued falling over the weekend and into the new week.

In Tadami, Fukushima Prefecture, 110 cm (43.3 inches) accumulated in 24 hours to 08:00 LT on December 19, making it an all-time record.

Nagaoka, Niigata measured 103 cm (40.5 inches) during the same period, Kaneyama 102 cm (40.1 inches), and Ohkura, Yamagata 101 cm (39.7 inches) — all are now new all-time 24-hour snowfall records.

As of December 19, Hijiori accumulated 231 cm (90.9 inches) on the ground, renewing a record for December.

The maximum snowfall expected in 24 hours to 06:00 LT on December 20 stands at 80 cm (31.4 inches) in the Hokuriku region and 70 cm (27.5 inches) in the Tohoku region, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The continuous snowfall caused a series of road closures on highways in many areas of Japan on December 19.2

Railways were also affected, with the Yamagata Shinkansen bullet train line suspending services on some sections from the first train of the day.

The JMA is calling for people to be on their guard against icy roads and traffic disruptions.

1 Record-breaking snow and coldest air mass of the season hit Japan – The Watchers – December 16, 2022

2 ‘Warning level’ snow expected in Tohoku and Hokuriku regions: Japan weather agency – Mainichi – December 19, 2022

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