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Blizzard hits northern Japan's Akita Pref., disrupts morning travel

People cross a pedestrian crossing as driving snow reduces visibility, in the city of Akita on Jan. 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Shuji Furukawa)

AKITA -- The northern Japan prefecture of Akita's coastal areas were struck by a blizzard on early Jan. 19 as a strong winter weather system flowed over the area and brought disruption to the morning rush hour.

    The Akita Local Meteorological Office reported a maximum instantaneous wind speed of 31.8 meters per second (about 114 kilometers per hour) at 8:49 a.m. on Jan. 19. The driving snow almost completely blocked visibility in the vicinity, and made it difficult to breathe while walking into the wind.

    The blizzard hit the prefecture during the morning commuting period, and people could be seen covering their faces with their hands and holding onto the hoods of their coats, while cars drove slowly with their headlights on.

    People cross a pedestrian crossing with poor visibility due to driving snow, in the city of Akita on Jan. 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Shuji Furukawa)

    As of 10 a.m. on Jan. 19, the temperature in Akita was minus 4 degrees Celsius, while the level of accumulated snow stood at 36 centimeters. Expressway traffic was repeatedly brought to a halt, and the East Japan Railway Co. reduced the number of morning Akita Shinkansen bullet trains.

    The Japan Meteorological Agency is continuing to warn of blizzards and high waves in northern Japan and in central Japan's Hokuriku region, with heavy snow falling mainly on the Sea of Japan side of the country. It is calling for people to be on their guard against traffic disruptions.

    The Akita meteorological office said the peak of the bad weather is likely to pass on the afternoon of Jan. 19.

    (Japanese original by Shuji Furukawa, Akita Bureau)

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