An unusually cold weather front and extreme low-pressure systems led to a harsh start to winter across much of Japan on Tuesday. Snowfall and strong winds partially halted traffic and caused hundreds of flight cancellations. Automaker Toyota suspended the second shift at all 14 production sites in the country on Wednesday.
The onset of winter caused major problems in the city of Niigata in the prefecture of the same name on Honshū Island. High winds hit commuters on Wednesday, even blowing cars off the street (see video above). Up to 60 centimeters of fresh snow is expected in the prefecture in the next 24 hours.
Cold records in several places
Large parts of Japan were covered in a dense blanket of snow on Wednesday. Cold records were measured in numerous places in the country. According to the Japanese weather authority JMA, the measured temperatures were among the lowest in the past decade. For example, in an area in southern Kumamoto Prefecture, the thermometer read minus nine degrees – the lowest reading there since measurements began in 1977.
According to Japanese media reports, vehicles became stuck in the snow masses on several major roads – including in the industrial and port city of Yokkaichi on the Shin-Meishin Expressway, which connects Mie and Hyogo prefectures. There was no room for dozens of trailers and trucks (see photos above).
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