Japan to see heavy snow, strong winds

Japanese weather officials are warning of heavy snow and strong winds along the side of the country facing the Japan Sea through Thursday.

They are calling on people to refrain from non-essential outings.

The severe weather is due to a strong, once-in-several-years cold air mass flowing into Japan.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said snowfalls were seen on Wednesday afternoon in mountainous areas from the northern prefecture of Hokkaido to northern Kyushu in the southwest.

Some areas in the Chugoku region, western Japan, saw heavy snow. In Kurayoshi, Tottori Prefecture, snow fell to a depth of 20 centimeters as of 8 p.m.

Osaka and Tokushima, as well as the southern cities of Miyazaki and Kagoshima, saw the first snowfall of the season.

Weather officials warn that the cold air mass is expected to strengthen an atmospheric pressure pattern that will bring heavy snow.

They warn that through Thursday noon, snowfall will rapidly increase, especially in the Japan Sea side of the Chugoku and Kinki regions. They also say the Pacific side of Chugoku and other regions from Kyushu to Tokai may see snowfall.

Weather officials also warn of strong winds in eastern and western Japan. At Tottori airport, wind gusts reached 27.8 meters per second at around 3 p.m. Utsunomiya, Kanto region, logged wind gusts of 25.3 meters per second at around 6 p.m.