Jim Andrews

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Japan Blizzard Leaves at Least Nine People Dead

March 4, 2013; 9:49 AM ET

A severe blizzard swept over northern Japan late last week.

A father froze to death last weekend as he sought to shelter his nine-year-old daughter, multiple news reports said on Monday. She survived the ordeal.

At least nine people were killed in incidents related to the foul winter weather, reports also showed.

The storm unleashed high winds, heavy snow and blinding whiteouts, the worst of which happened on the island of Hokkaido on Saturday, March 2, weather data accessed by AccuWeather.com showed.

Data also indicated that more than a foot of new snow fell at the Wakkanai Airport in northernmost Hokkaido. Sustained winds reached at least 52 mph with higher gusts.

Gusts hit at least 64 mph at Monbetsu.

Okada, a fisherman, picked up his daughter, Natsune, from school Saturday afternoon, the Australian website said.

Their truck became stranded in the windswept, heavily drifted snow. He opted to have them both walk the last kilometer (about 1,000 yards), yet they were found only 300 meters from the vehicle.

Okada had given Natsune his coat, then he wrapped his arms around her, the Australia said. Rescuers found her in his arms.

A depiction of the powerful 972 mb winter storm gripping northern Japan and neighboring Russia late Saturday, local time, March 2, 2013. Some of the worst winds and whiteouts were hitting northern Hokkaido, Japan, at the time. (NCEP image)

The trigger for the blizzard was a severe winter storm that strengthened as it tracked eastward, directly over Hokkaido on Saturday. The storm also unleashed a blizzard on southern Sakhalin Island, Russia.

Northern Japan has some of the snowiest climates on earth, due to the meeting of Siberian cold and the relatively warm Sea of Japan.

A hill town in northern Honshu, Sukayu, claimed a staggering snow depth of 5.5 meters, or 18 feet, the BBC News website said on Monday. The report showed houses all-but buried beneath the burden of snow.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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