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6 die due to heavy snow in Japan; bad weather expected to continue

A tram is seen operating on roads covered in snow amid a blizzard in the city of Toyama on Jan. 13, 2022. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ohmori)

Six people have died as a strong winter pressure pattern around Japan on Jan. 13 has led to heavy snowfall concentrated on the Sea of Japan side of the northern to western parts of the country.

    Amid concerns that heavy snow will continue to fall into Jan. 14, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is urging vigilance against high waves in the Sea of Japan side of the eastern to western parts of the country, and of blizzards and other conditions causing traffic disruptions in northern Japan.

    According to the JMA, snow is expected to settle on the plains of the country's Pacific Ocean side through Jan. 14. Due to the effects of an atmospheric pressure trough, there are fears of localized heavy snowfall primarily in parts of central Japan's Hokuriku region.

    In the 12-hour period up to 6 p.m. on Jan. 13, 55 centimeters of snowfall was recorded in the central Japan city of Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, while the same prefecture's city of Tokamachi saw 46 cm. The village of Nozawaonsen in central Japan's Nagano Prefecture saw 34 cm, while the village of Shirakawa in neighboring Gifu Prefecture recorded 30 cm.

    Projected snowfall amounts for the 24-hour period ending Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. show the east Japan Kanto-Koshin region and the Hokuriku region with the highest amounts at 80 cm each, while the central Japan Tokai region and west Japan Kinki region are expected to receive 60 cm each, and the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido and west Japan's Chugoku region are forecast to see 50 cm each.

    Through Jan. 14, maximum sustained and instantaneous windspeeds are expected to reach 23 meters per second (82.8 kilometers per hour) and 35 m/s (126 kph) respectively in Hokkaido and the Hokuriku region, and 20 m/s (72 kph) and 30 m/s (108 kph) respectively in the Kinki and Chugoku regions. Waves are expected to be 6 meters high in the Hokuriku, Kinki and Chugoku regions.

    (Japanese original by Shintaro Iguchi, Tokyo City News Department, Nobuaki Tsuchiya, Asahikawa Bureau, and Yosuke Tsuyuki, Niigata Bureau)

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