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Rare Snowstorm Hits Japan, Turns Deadly

By Story by Meteorologist Alan Reppert
February 13, 2014, 1:11:05 AM EST

A strong storm moving up the eastern coastline of Japan brought a rare, heavy snowfall Saturday into early Sunday for areas that typically don't see much in the way of snow.

Tokyo is a difficult place for snow due to the high peak of Mount Fuji, just to the west of the city. It blocks a lot of the storms moving in from the west, and most storms coming in from the south and east are too warm.

Tokyo received 10.6 inches (27 cm) of snow from this storm, and some of the heaviest snowfall seen was in Matsumoto, where 19.2 inches (49 cm) of snow fell. The Japan Meteorological Agency has said this is the heaviest snowfall from one storm in decades.

Local media stated that at least 11 people have been killed in snow-related accidents, according to AFP. Most of the accidents involved cars skidding on icy roads.

Tokyo, Japan, Forecast
Japan Radar
Japan Weather Center

Winds were also quite gusty as Tokyo airport saw winds gust to 50 mph (80 kph) during the heaviest snowfall. The wind and snow caused over 40,000 households to lose power and over 700 flights to be cancelled at Tokyo's Haneda airport, according to NHK World.

The bullet train was slowed due to the snow, and roads in Tokyo were impassable in places.


Over the next few days, a few snow showers will linger across western Honshu. Towards Tokyo, there can be an isolated rain or snow shower through Tuesday evening, but no significant accumulation is expected.

Later this week, there is another storm which could take a similar track to the one which just produced record-setting snowfall. Milder air may spread into the region just ahead of the storm, so precipitation could be rain or snow for Tokyo.

Story by Meteorologist Alan Reppert

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