24th January 2023 – (Osaka) Japanese weather officials are urging people to prepare for heavy snow and cold temperatures as soon as possible. They warn that the coldest air mass of this winter is expected to bring heavy snow to much of the country from Tuesday.
The Meteorological Agency said on Monday that snow has already started falling in northern parts of the country along the Sea of Japan, and mountainous areas in Shikoku due to the low-pressure system.
Hokkaido and Toyama Prefecture in Honshu have begun to snow heavily. Air traffic has been greatly affected, and more than 200 flights have to be cancelled. Some tourism industry players estimate that there are currently at least 4,000 Hong Kong tourists in Japan, of which there are at least three groups of about 60 travellers from Hong Kong who are stranded in Japan due to weather and traffic reasons.
A spokesperson for WWPKG Holdings Company Limited said that there are currently about 1,200 group tour members traveling in Japan. The weather has slightly affected the itinerary of the tourists. He also pointed out that the bridge connecting Kansai Airport is currently suspended resulting in 3 groups with about 60 travellers stranded at Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
According to NHK, in the 24 hours to noon on Wednesday, 70 to 100cm of snow is expected in Niigata Prefecture, 70 to 90cm in Hokuriku, 60 to 80cm in Tohoku and Kanto-Koshin, and 50 to 70cm in Kinki and Chugoku. Tokai may have 40 to 60cm, Hokkaido and northern Kyushu, 30 to 50cm, Shikoku, 20 to 40cm, and southern Kyushu, 10 to 20cm.
Weather officials say winds will intensify across the country, and rough waves are expected offshore from Tohoku to Okinawa and Amami.
On Wednesday, temperatures are expected to plunge to minus 12 degrees Celsius in Sapporo, minus 9 in Nagano, minus 6 in Sendai and minus 3 in Tokyo.
The Meteorological Agency warns that snowstorms could disrupt transport and cause power outages. Water pipes could also freeze.