Japan braces for heavy snow, severe cold

Much of Japan is about to get a blast of wintry weather.

Officials are urging people to prepare for the cold snap and a major dumping of snow that could freeze pipes and knock out power.

Snow could even blanket areas which aren't used to snow, including flatlands along the Pacific coast.

Weather and transport officials say snow could come suddenly and accumulate fast.

The head of the Japan Meteorological Agency's weather monitoring and warning center, Kato Hiro, said, "In case of heavy snow, we ask you to refrain from going out unless it is urgent, and to consider rescheduling necessary outings."

A blizzard in December left hundreds of drivers locked in place overnight until the Self-Defense Forces dug them out.

The transport ministry official asked drivers to be on the alert so they won't get stranded in the heavy snow.

Airlines have already canceled more than 100 flights on Tuesday, mainly those to and from coastal areas in central and western Japan.

The heavy snow could last through Thursday.