Heavy snowstorms forecast for northern Japan

Japanese weather officials are warning of severe snowstorms for northern parts of the country through Saturday, with disruptions to road traffic and public transport expected.

The Meteorological Agency says that a developing low pressure system is expected to pass over northern Japan, bringing a strong winter weather pattern to the region.

This is likely to bring powerful winds and snow and even blizzard conditions to Hokkaido and Tohoku, particularly along the Sea of Japan coast from Friday to Saturday.

Some parts of Hokkaido and Tohoku can expect winds of up to 126 kilometers per hour on Friday and Saturday.

It will be rough at sea, with waves forecast to reach 7 meters off the coast of Tohoku, and 6 meters off Hokkaido and Niigata.

The agency is advising local residents to stay on alert to the possibility that the stormy weather could disrupt public transport and create hazardous driving conditions, and might also cause power outages.

The agency is also warning that the season's coldest air mass so far is expected to engulf Japan next week.

Heavy snow is forecast for areas along the Sea of Japan coast from Monday. From Tuesday, snowfall is expected in many other parts of the country including those along the Pacific coast, with temperatures plunging.