Heavy snow to keep falling in Hokuriku, Tohoku

Weather officials in Japan are calling for increased caution against more heavy snows predicted for parts of the Sea of Japan coast.

Snow has accumulated at more than twice the level of usual years in some mountainous areas of Niigata Prefecture, the Hokuriku region and the Sea of Japan side of the Tohoku region.

As of 11 a.m. on Saturday, snow had piled up to a depth of 2.52 meters in Ohkura Village in Yamagata Prefecture. It hit 2.09 meters in Tsunan Town in Niigata.

A very cold air mass along with a typical winter atmospheric pressure pattern are intermittently bringing the extreme snowfalls.

The snow is expected to continue mainly over Niigata and Hokuriku through Sunday, even as the winter pattern weakens. Snow is expected to accumulate on the plains as well.

Weather officials forecast up to 70 centimeters of snow to fall along mountains in Niigata and up to 40 centimeters in Hokuriku and the Sea of Japan side of Tohoku over the 24 hours to Sunday morning.

They are calling for caution over traffic disruptions, snow falling from roofs, avalanches and power blackouts due to snow accumulating on power cables and trees.

Authorities are advising people to take special care when removing snow. They also advise the use of safety ropes and helmets when clearing snow from roofs, and for people not to work alone.

They urge operators of snow-clearing machines to ensure safety devices are switched on, and not to use the machines in places with poor ventilation.