Sea of Japan coastal areas brace for winter storm

Japan's weather officials forecast violent snowstorms for the Sea of Japan coastal areas on Thursday and Friday.
They say heavy snow and fierce winds could disrupt traffic.

The Meteorological Agency said on Thursday that winds are becoming stronger nationwide due to a rapidly developing low pressure system accompanied by a front.
It says areas mainly along the Sea of Japan coast are being hit by snow and very strong winds.

Wind gusts of around 100 kilometers per hour were recorded in Hamada City in Shimane Prefecture, Kyotango City in Kyoto Prefecture and at Tottori airport on Thursday morning.

Weather officials say a winter pressure pattern will strengthen and bring heavy snow until around Sunday to both the mountains and flatland areas along the Sea of Japan and mountainous areas along the Pacific coast.

In the 24 hours through Friday morning, snowfall of up to 80 centimeters is expected in the Hokuriku region and Niigata Prefecture, 70 centimeters is forecast in Tokai, and 60 centimeters may fall in the Tohoku, Kansai and Chugoku regions. In Hokkaido, up to 50 centimeters is expected, while the forecast is for 40 centimeters in the Kanto-Koshin region, 30 centimeters in Shikoku, 20 centimeters in Yamaguchi Prefecture and 10 centimeters in northern Kyushu.

Weather officials also warn of rough sea conditions and avalanches. They advise people to be on the alert against possible traffic disruptions due to blizzards, snow accumulation and icy roads. They say snow piling up on power lines could cause electricity outages, and that trees could collapse under the weight of snow.