Japan Region Buried in Snow, Calls for Troops

February 2, 2011; 11:42 AM ET
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The prefecture of Niigata, Japan, has asked for a dispatch of troops to help in the wake of record-setting snowfalls, according to reports on Wednesday.

The Ground Self-Defense Force of Japan was expected to send troops to the town of Uonuma, where a snow depth of 4.09 meters, or 13.4 feet, has reportedly build up.

Fearing roof collapse under the weight of the deep snow, complicated by warming and the potential for rain, the local officials called for the troops to help clear roofs.

Niigata is in western Honshu, which winter climate is notorious for its waves of heavy snow off the Sea of Japan during cold outbreaks. Western Honshu is home to some of the highest snowfalls anywhere on earth, even at relatively low elevation, as bitter northwesterly winds out of Siberia and northern China flow across the much warmer Sea of Japan.


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Uonuma itself is located about 120 miles, or nearly 200 km, northwest of Tokyo which, incidentally, the report also made mention of for its abnormally dry, clear weather this winter. The same weather pattern that delivers heavy snow on the western side of mountainous Honshu normally yields dry, clear weather at Tokyo.

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