Heavy snowfall in coastal areas of the Sea of Japan from the northernmost island of Hokkaido to southern Kyushu prompted warnings of power outages, slippery roads and ice fog.
Hundreds of flights were canceled because of the snowstorm, while many Shinkansen bullet trains and local trains were also disrupted. Japanese media reported that many vehicles were stuck on main roads in some cities.
On the Shin-Meishin Expressway, which borders Mie and Shiga prefectures, dozens of cars and trucks were stuck for more than a day as heavy snow made travel conditions “very dangerous”, prompting authorities to issue a warning. The local fire department assisted and evacuated people.
Passengers on 16 trains on the JR Tokaido and Sanyo lines were also stranded when the train could not continue running due to the heavy snow.
46 out of 47 Japanese prefectures recorded sub-zero temperatures on November 25. Only the subtropical islands in Okinawa Prefecture escape the cold. Authorities urged residents to clear snow on roofs in pairs, in case someone gets buried in snow.
In the 24 hours to 8 am on the same day, Maniwa city, Okayama prefecture, recorded a record 93 cm of snow. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, there are four regions with all-time low temperatures.
Weather conditions made worse because of high winds. Meteorologists in Rausu, Hokkaido, recorded wind speeds of more than 130 km/h.
In central Tokyo, the lowest temperature recorded in winter is -2.9 degrees Celsius, but the perceived temperature can drop to -10 degrees Celsius in cold windy conditions. Officials also warned of the risk of water pipes freezing, causing structural damage to buildings and infrastructure and devastating crops.
Frost is forecast to continue to affect much of Japan over the next week or so. More snow is expected in the northern and western regions, as well as in the mountains of the country.