Japan: Record snowfall extreme winter weather strikes

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Record-breaking snowfall has struck Japan this week, amid warnings of extreme weather conditions and freak avalanches. The snowfall, which began on Christmas Day and has not let up, has prompted travel chaos across the country. Thousands have been left without power amid widespread blackouts, according to Kansai Electric Power.

The north and west of Japan have been the worst hit from the snowfall, amid official warnings to stay indoors.

Government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno said there have yet to be any fatalities, but the extreme weather conditions had caused several injuries.

He urged residents in the affected areas not to go out, adding that further traffic disruptions may occur.

Mr Matsuno said: “A strong winter pressure pattern is causing heavy snow with some areas experiencing record snowfall.”

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He added: “The amount of snow is expected to increase tomorrow. Increased caution and vigilance are still required.”

On Tuesday, nearly 100cm of snow was expected to fall in Japan’s northwestern region.

The nation’s transport system also ground to a halt, as severe weather caused train disruptions and cancelled more than 100 domestic flights.

The number of grounded flights was expected to grow throughout the week.

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Around 200 passengers spent the night on Sunday snowed-in on a local train line.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency has urged people to refrain from non-essential travel as it forecast blizzard conditions would continue.

The cities of Hikone and Asago experienced record-breaking levels of snow, according to the Meteorological Agency.

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The city of Asago saw 71 centimetres of snow fall in 24 hours through early Monday.

Hikone had reported 68 centimetres of snowfall in the last 24 hours, almost 30 times more than average.

Footage on national TV showed long queues of stuck cars near Hikone, between Kyoto and Nagoya.

One local resident, trying to clear snow from the road on a highway, said that around 60 cm had accumulated by morning.

He noted: “It has been a while since I’ve seen this much snow.”

Weather officials warn that “unstable atmospheric conditions” could even lead to avalanches.

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